The Deadliest Animal to Humans in the World Will Shock You

If you're picturing sharks, big cats, or snakes, it's time to tame your wild imagination.

When you think of the deadliest animals known to mankind, you're probably envisioning lions and tigers and bears. (Oh my!) But as the CDC reveals, the deadliest animal threat known to mankind has little to do with the rare apex predator attacks that might keep you up at night. Instead, something far less frightening reigns supreme as the most dangerous animal known to man: mosquitos kill more human beings than any other creature on the planet.

Though most of us consider mosquitos a mere annoyance, they're associated with a long list of devastating diseases. Malaria, Zika Virus, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, and West Nile Virus are just some of the better-known ways they've marred mankind. Combined, these mosquito-borne diseases result in "millions of deaths" per year, according to the World Health Organization.

Even more menacing, Vox put it this way in an interview with Timothy C. Winegard, author of the book The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator: "Over the course of 200,000 years, 108 billion people have lived on Earth. And nearly half, 52 billion, have been killed by mosquitoes."

So why don't we just get rid of them completely? Well, before we villainize all 3,500 types of the world's mosquitoes, it's worth noting that only a small fraction actually accounts for all of that destruction. As Winegard points out, just 200 mosquito types bite; of that group, only a handful transmit diseases.

According to many researchers, eradicating all types of mosquitoes would mean that thousands of plant species would lose key pollinators, causing untold ecological consequences. Yet others argue that there's a moral imperative for doing it anyway, or at least waging war on the aegypti mosquito, which is the most dangerous species. It would prevent countless deaths, improve quality of life, increase the GDPs of economically vulnerable nations, and alleviate overburdened hospitals in countries suffering most from mosquito-borne illnesses.

Regardless, the first step is recognizing the mayhem mosquitoes cause. The next time you think of the most dangerous animals in the world, forget the big cats, snakes, and crocodiles that only seem like the biggest threats. Mosquitoes are a far greater foe. And for more on mosquitoes, check out Can Mosquitoes Spread Coronavirus? The New Research You Need to Know About

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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