A crocodile drifts past a hippopotamus in the Limpopo river at the Pafuri game reserve in Kruger National Park, South Africa. The deadliest animal in the world, however, is a lot smaller than them. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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We humans are constantly putting in efforts to make a better and safer life for ourselves, but the world remains a dangerous place. As for wild animals, what determines their danger level might not necessarily be size.
We may think of some of these animals as friendly or harmless, but sometimes even “friendly” or docile-seeming species can become dangerous if provoked.
Here is a list of the top 10 most dangerous animals on earth, beginning with number 10.
Hippos are usually found in Africa and are responsible for more human fatalities on the continent than any other large animal. Male and female hippos tend to have different reasons for attacking. A male hippo will defend its territory, which runs along the bank of a river or lake, whereas the female becomes aggressive in defending her young.
A hippo can weigh as much as 8,000 pounds, with an average weight of about 3,500 pounds. It can run at speeds of 20 miles per hour, and its mouth can open up to 4 feet high. Its mouth can be used to crush like a sledgehammer.
9. Australian Box Jellyfish
The Indo-Pacific or Australian box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) is the most poisonous marine animal known to mankind, and its sting can kill a human. It can be found in Australia’s northern oceans and throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. It has up to 60 tentacles, each growing as long as 15 feet. The tentacles are covered in cnidocysts, and each cnidocyst is equipped with a tiny needle and a load of toxin that, added together, could kill 50 people.
Most people survive an encounter with this jellyfish, but the pain is excruciating. It can stop a person’s heart or paralyze the person and cause drowning. Reports say this creature causes over 100 deaths a year, but records are sketchy. Reporting jellyfish deaths is not required by many countries, and many areas don’t want to publicize the presence of deadly jellyfish for fear of affecting tourism.
8. Great White Shark
Averaging 15 feet long, with rows of up to 300 sharp serrated teeth inside powerful 4-foot-wide jaws, the great white shark is comfortably at the top of the food chain. It eats a wide variety of species and isn’t too picky, but humans are not preferred, being leaner and bonier than its favorite prey—the fattier seals and sea lions.
Research shows that sharks explore objects with their mouths and will normally “test bite” something to see what it is. Many attacks on humans are thought to simply be these test bites. In the majority of cases, after the initial bite, the shark will retreat, though unfortunately, that first bite can often kill a person.
Of the more than 100 shark attacks every year, one-third to one-half are by great whites, and most of these are not fatal.