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1. Box jellyfish
Most of the things you encounter on planet earth won’t kill you. Eucalyptus trees, for instance, are relatively harmless — and unless you’re skydiving into an enclave of their twisty branches, they’ll probably never hurt you. The same can’t be said of the box jellyfish. The box jellyfish is one of the most terrifying creatures on the planet.
Coming in at a diminutive 10 inches across, this elusive and translucent jelly can induce a sting capable of paralysis. And this is exactly what a 10-year-old girl in Queensland, Australia had to live through. Fortunately for her, while the stings did induce horrible and ubiquitous scarring and knocked her unconscious, she was rescued from the clutches of death. Others have not been so lucky.
2. Mountain lion
Hikers, mountain bikers, and other intrepid explorers have to prepare themselves for the elements of the wild. They have to face things like poison ivy, hidden roots, and other barriers to a good time that are often obscured from immediate view. Another of these terrors is the mountain lion.
The mountain lion is one of the most vicious foes you can encounter in the mountains. The beast can weigh up to 200 pounds, stretch about eight feet in length, and tear you to shreds with razor-sharp claws and teeth. Earlier this year, an eight-year-old boy had to fight one of these mountain lions off with a stick. Fortunately, his persistence was a success, leading the mountain lion to flee. For this, he was extremely lucky.
Wolves normally aren’t a worry for everyday life. They tend to shy away from environments heavily populated with humans. You won’t, for instance, find them meandering about Time Square looking for a nearby Nordstroms. You will, however, find them in National Parks and Forests in the heavily dense woods.
In Canada’s popular Banff National Park, for instance, one such wolf emerged from the forest to try and pull a man from his tent. Apparently starving and old, the wolf was hungry and looking for an easy meal. As the man was being pulled, however, he’s screams for help had encouraged another nearby hiker into action. Together, the two men were able to scare the beast off. “Wow” is all we have to say about that…
4. Black widow
Most of us have fears of something. Some of us fear heights, others of us failure. But one of the most common fears to find in our fellow Homo sapiens is the spider. And, of these horrid eight-legged beasts, the black widow tends to be one of the most terrifying. With a huge rear-end that packs more punch than an album by Beyonce, this little spider can do a lot more damage than your average arachnid.
The venom of the black widow is capable of everything from muscle spasms to heart failure. And the venom is considered to have a potency up to 15 times that of the rattlesnake. When a little girl was bitten by one recently in Massachusetts, the effects began to show immediately — the girl came down with a fever and got sick. Fortunately, the spider did not release enough venom to stop her heart.
5. Great white
There are few beasts that strike fear into the heart as potently as the great white shark. While the adjective “great” was added colloquially and not by shark biologists (who should really rally to have their profession called sharkology), it seems fitting. The creature comes in at a staggering 13 feet long. It can also weigh up to a ton. Yikes.
Given its massive size, the creature is something to behold. It’s so majestic, for instance, that people will literally pay thousands of dollars to cage dive with the things. And this is one instance in which things can go wrong. One man, for instance, preparing for a dive off the western coast of Mexico, met the unfortunate circumstance of having a great white swim through the steel cage into which he was encased. Fortunately, he kept his calm well enough to escape through a hatch in the bottom of the cage.
6. Grizzly bears
Most of the bears you will encounter in the wild don’t cause much of a threat. In fact, many hikers will report seeing them on the trail. For the average black or brown bear, this isn’t a problem — all you need do is try to look big and make a lot of noise. Because the furry mammals aren’t that interested in humans, they’ll try and find a way around. The grizzly is a bit different.
Rather than feeding primarily off of berries, the grizzly is a full-blown predator. When in an area suggestive of a grizzly’s presence, National Wildlife and Parks rangers suggest that you leave the area. If you don’t, you can end up like these hikers who had to spray a charging grizzly bear with their spray moments prior to an attack. Had they been sprayless, it is overwhelmingly likely that the thing would have attacked.
Most of us in the United States have little fear of lions. Because there hasn’t been such a ferocious feline predator in North America since the pleistocene saber-tooth tiger, a fear isn’t exactly rational. However, when you move into places like the Serengeti of Africa, the fear becomes several times more tangible. While attacks are still rare, they do happen.
One particularly terrible moment didn’t occur in one instant, but instead over the entire filming period of a movie. The movie, entitled Roar, featured a houseful of humans interacting with the beasts. While the animals were trained and safety crew nearby, this didn’t prevent the movie become that with the greatest abundance of animal attacks in existence. Fortunately nobody was killed.
While chimpanzees aren’t as immediately terrifying as a charging grizzly bear or pack of encroaching wolves, they can be terrifying. If you doubt this, just look up pictures of the thing shaved. If that doesn’t induce you into nail-biting terror I don’t know what will. Anyways, the fellow great ape is replete with all sorts of tough and dense muscle.
One such chimpanzee showed the damage it can do when it mauled its owner. The chimp, having broken from obedience, randomly decided to attack the female owner, biting and tearing at her flesh. While the woman was not killed, she came frightfully close. She had to undergo numerous reconstructive surgeries to try and mend the wounds. Fortunately she has healed well.
People often don’t think of moose as all that terrifying. They are, after all, only an evolutionary hop, skip, and a jump away from the more innocuous fallow deer. Unlike the fallow deer, however, the moose can be much more moody — and, given their massive size, these moods can prove problematic. Ranging in size from 5.6- to 6.6-feet tall, the moose can prove quite the formidable foe.
People in Alaska and Russia who are often subjected to their volatile temperaments can have some uncomfortable encounters. In Anchorage, Alaska, for instance, attacks are relatively common. In 2017, a woman was injured and hospitalized after the moose attacked her. The likely origin of the attack was the two calves that the adult was protecting. Calves are a notorious exacerbator of danger with many animals.
10. Sea lion
Sea lions normally aren’t on our mental list of “most dangerous animals.” However, like with most animals they can be deadly. In 2017, for instance, a swimmer in San Francisco was met with an unhealthy amount of perturbation when making his way across the bay. While en route, a sea lion came up to him and bit him on the arm. And, in case you didn’t know much about swimming, arms can be fairly useful.
After having been bitten on the arm, the man had an understandable amount of difficulty swimming. Fortunately for him, however, there was a sailboat nearby that recognized his apparent distress. The man was swiftly pulled aboard and rescued from the potential danger of drowning. While such encounters are unlikely, let this person’s malaise serve as a caution.
11. Polar bear
Not many parts of the world can rival northern Canada for its unrelenting ruggedness. And in 2013, a group of unsuspecting travelers learned this the hard way. Hiking in the Torngat Mountains National Park in the Canadian tundra, a group of intrepid travelers noticed a polar off in the distance. The giant land-dwelling predator kept toward them.
Having fired a flare at the bear — and then another — proved to scare it off. However, the distance they gained would not last. While through the night the bear stayed a few hundred yards from the tent, at night the camp woke to one man being dragged from his tent by the skull. Screams and the fear their friend might be gone drew the hikers to pursuit.
12. Polar bear: Part II
Upon grabbing the man by the skull, his jaw broke. As the man was dragged approximately 75 feet from the trekker’s camp, the man realized his plight. What he soon realized, however, was that his friends — of which there were at least five or six — had followed in pursuit, They were shouting, making as much noise as possible, and — ultimately — doing whatever they could to get their friend dropped.
Fortunately for the man, he escaped. His friends followed the bear as it carried him off and shot another flare in its direction. After having seen the flare, the bear dropped the man quickly to the ground and ran off. His friends were able to get him to safety before the bear returned. The man can likely attribute his survival to the quick actions of his dear friends.
Crocodiles are known for more than just their crocodile tears — they’re also known for their occasional vicious run-ins with humans. Often insalubrious, these encounters end with the loss of limb that those affected would clearly have rather missed. Here, however, we have an Australian legend dancing with the proverbial crocodilian devil.
The late Steve Irwin would often subject himself to ostensible peril for thrills and amusement — he is, after all, thoroughly Australian. Here, however, feeling rather comfortable around the maws of one of the most dangerous reptilian beasts, he subjects both himself and his young child to the peril. While safe within the arms of one of the most talented nature enthusiasts, the situation is still severely dangerous.
14. Hungry hungry hippos
Hippos are often unrecognized for how dangerous they are. First off, they weigh around 3,300 to 4,500 pounds. This makes them quite dangerous. But most people don’t realize that they kill more people per year than most top predators in the African plains. Just last year, for instance, a woman was attacked by a hippo when her safari tour boat capsized.
While her and her husband were sifting through the waters on a canoe, a hippo emerged beneath them. As the woman tried to swim to shore, the hippo pulled her underwater and attacked her. Fortunately, the tour guide was able to grab her and pull her ashore. After having administered first aid, the woman was able to get to safety and recover. She narrowly escaped with her life.
Killer whales were given their ominous nickname for a reason — and it’s not because they’re killers on the dance floor. Rather, killer whales have a strong penchant for killing. While most of the killing they do is to seals and other ocean prey, the occasional killing has been tragically aimed at humans.
The documentary Blackfish, for instance, catalogues the story of such incidents at SeaWorlds across the United States. When robbed of their natural environment and thrown into a brutal artificial replacement with human trainers, the result isn’t always good. And it wasn’t until these incidents grew popular that people started to notice.
Elephants are some of the most majestic, social, and intelligent animals on planet earth. They bond with one another, mourn the loss of their peers, and even work hard to solve complex problems. But sometimes these beautiful beasts are constrained into unnatural and unsavory conditions that cause them to act in unnatural and sometimes brutal ways. In india, where such animals are trained, such a thing happened.
This elephant, after having recently witnessed a friend experiencing ill treatment at the hand of another trainer, decided that it had had enough. The elephant began to bulldoze through the crowd, throwing people like rag dolls. The moral of the story is that typically-loving and social animals should not be conscripted into animal slavery by those looking to fuel the flames of the tourism industry.
Tigers are not to be trifled with. Given their tremendous ability to hunt and kill the natural prey of their various habitats, you know that if you see one in the wild (which is rare to be sure) you should keep — and even gain some — distance. The risk of not doing so is great to both you and any of your compatriots. Siegfried and Roy apparently didn’t get that memo.
Having decided to tame one of the most beautiful tiger species on the planet — the Siberian white tiger — the duo took to the entertainment industry. Using methods unknown to us but that likely involved positive and negative punishment, the pair played with their tiger until it ultimately turn on Sigmond, ending a show in horror. While the man survived, their show collapsed.
18. Lions… again
Lions, like tigers, are some of the most ferocious cats on the planet. The females do their hunting in packs, while the males sit back with their majestic maines and relax (talk about a patriarchy!). The makes even go so far as to kill the babies of any new pride that they takeover. Given these predilections, you would think it unwise to put about a dozen or so of these cats into a tightly clustered movie set with humans.
Roar is the name of a movie in which just such a thing happened. Having decided it was a good (and entertaining) way in which to tell a story, this director shot an entire movie of people interacting with the vicious cats. And yes, as you might expect, people got hurt. Lots of people. While nobody died, the production was definitely one of the most notorious ever to make it into Hollywood. We can take solace in the fact that it didn’t do well.
Sting rays aren’t normally all that dangerous. At worst, they typically only implement and annoying and uncomfortable sting to the foot when stepped on. But not long after, the pain will dissipate, the creature will have escaped, and both you and it can go on your merry way. But sometimes the circumstances will align more unfavorably. For one particular man, these circumstances created just such a tragedy.
Steve Irwin, an international icon and travel-explorer extraordinar, was performing some routine shooting when the shot was cut short by a horrible tragedy. A stingray hiding in the beach had been unknowingly agitated by Irwin and his crew. As you would expect, this induced the stingray to sting. And, unfortunately for everyone involved, the sting just so happened to land on Irwin’s heart. We all mourn his loss and hope to keep his legacy of nature advocacy strong in his absence.
20. Snakes in the drain
It’s a commonly known fact that homes in the desert often harbor strange things. When things get cold, the strongly reptilian ecosystem that surrounds them begins to look for warmth. They are cold-blooded, after all. And, unfortunately for those with homes in such places, one of the warmest places for these reptilian animals is the piping in their toilets.
It’s not uncommon for those with desert vacation homes to open up the toilet and find a slithering surprise. These snakes, sometimes venomous, curl up in the unused and accommodatingly sinuous piping. This is likely one of the last things that you would like to find as you prepare to do your business. Let this serve as a valuable and indispensable lesson to look before you go. You might thank me for this later.
21. Golden eagle
Golden eagles are arguably the most ferocious of aerial predator species to exist; they have all the power and force of and eagle with an increased size. This makes them quite the formidable foe for goats and other small-dwelling creatures of the landscape in which they hunt. Sometimes, however, these eagles mistake humans for this prey with a quixotic ambition. The result can be deadly for those involved.
On this date, a golden eagle pinpointed with its eye (possibly filled with cataracts) a potential prey of threat below. That threat happened to be a tourist among many others in the area. Having swooped down and grabbed the woman, her and others began to frantically bat at the thing. In their attempts to combat the flying foe, they eventually succeeded. Had the woman been alone, who knows how things might have panned out. As Alfred Hitchcock warmed, we should be at least slightly vigilant of those that fly above us.
Bison don’t normally attack humans. They are, after all, herbivores. However, sometimes the zealously curious will get too close for comfort. And so, they will be bucked into and uncomfortable if not deadly disposition. This has happened more times than national parks and rec staff would care to recount. One of the most common places in which this happens is Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
Last June, for instance, a woman who got too close to one of these bison was gored. Fortunately, the only damage the woman suffered was a hip injury. Others have been so lucky. If you’re in an area with hyper-defensive bison, then, the lesson should be to keep your distance. If you don’t, you will likely end up like this poor woman.
23. Tiger attack
Tigers, as we have already mentioned, are a ferocious breed of cat that you would rather not encounter. Because the beast has razor-sharp claws and a set of teeth that can tear through the most tenaciously resilient flesh, they pose quite the threat to humans and like that live near them. Fortunately for most, few have to interact with such tigers on a daily basis.
This isn’t true for zookeepers. And, unfortunately, a few of these zookeepers have had horrible run-ins with the beast. At the Kansas zoo earlier this year, for instance, a sumatran tiger broke free from its cage to attack one of its keepers. Because the lock mechanism that normally constrains the beast was left unlocked, when the woman neared the cage the beast was able to lounge. Fortunately, the woman survived.
Coyotes are not as immediately threatening as other large canine species. Because of their size, they don’t seem capable of as much damage. However, because the beasts are still equipped with claws and sharp teeth, they can cause a lot of damage. And for those infected with rabies, the fear that might induce them to stay away from humans evaporates. This can be extremely dangerous.
In Pennsylvania last year, for instance, a woman was mauled by a coyote suspected to have been infected with the virus. Having left the woman “drenched in blood,” the woman was left to recover from lacerations to several parts of her body. Despite these problems, the woman survived and was able to recover. Let this be another lesson to avoid potentially aggressive wildlife.
Walruses are large beasts, to be sure. However, they’re not often seen as all that threatening. This will immediately change if the thing is attacking your boat — and one such thing did happen to a Navy vessel in Russia last year. The vessel was led into the arctic sea with the aim of research. However, when the walrus felt that her children were threatened by the vessel, she took to the offensive.
The boat that sunk, however, was not the tugboat upon which most of the crew was traveling; rather, it was the smaller inflatable boat that the researchers took to get their analyses. Once the walrus saw this smaller boat, it clearly went insane. Attacking the think as if it were some sort of malicious orca, the boat was taken down and sundered. The crew, however, survived.
Florida is full of many idiosyncrasies. It is often featured in the headlines for things like people getting into fights with rats or neighbors attacking neighbors with roller blades. However, sometimes the strangeness carries over into hunting season — this happens when the animals being hunted decide to fight back.
Earlier this year, for instance, a man — just two days into local hunting season, mind you — was mauled by an alligator he was attempting to hunt. While the man prepared to kill the beast, it reach out and mawed his hand. And, given the tremendous force of the bite and the subsequent attempts to pull the man in, his arm was pulverized. While eventually able to escape, he will forever be left with the scars.