So what are Hollywood’s deadliest animals?
The mosquito is estimated to be responsible for 725,000 human deaths worldwide every single year. Mosquitos are especially dangerous because of their ability to transmit deadly diseases from human to human, such as malaria, West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, and Yellow Fever. A study by Choumet et al. 2012 actually shows that, in some cases, infected mosquitos probe under skin for longer periods of time than uninfected ones, which may actually make it easier to spread disease. Mosquitos have a variety of ways to find their prey and are pros when it comes to finding blood vessels. Take a look at the video below and you’ll see that the mosquito Anopheles gambiae can actually orient its mouthparts at almost 90 degree angles while searching for blood vessels.
Other Dangerous Critters
Compared to mosquitoes, the rest of the most commonly-portrayed human predators look warm and cuddly by comparison. Perhaps not surprisingly, the second worst enemy of humans is, well, humans. At 425,000 estimated deaths per year, humans dwarf the next-best human hunter. The third most deadly animal is the snake, a creature we DO actually see every now and then in Hollywood films (see: Snakes On a Plane). The snake is a distant third, however, in this unsavory ranking at 50,000 global deaths annually. If you happen to live in the United States or another country with access to advanced health care, however, never fear! In countries with strong medical care, the chance of a fatal snake bite drops to nearly zero: only one person in 50,000 million will die from a snake bite in the United States every year.
How Can You Help?
Death’s caused by disease transmission from mosquitos is an incredibly serious, yet often ignored, issue. Until Hollywood starts making big-budget flicks to draw some attention to this issue, the next best thing you can do is help out. The Gates Foundation is currently sponsoring several organizations in their fight against malaria; check out this link to see which organizations they support and how to donate. Another great top-rated charity not listed on the Gates Foundation website is the Against Malaria Foundation. By purchasing insect nets, they can distribute them in the most critical areas to for them to reduce exposure. Just remember next time you’re enjoying your animal inspired horror-flick: the real human predator is out there and doing some real damage.
Source: Choumet, V., Attout, T., Chartier, L., Khun, H., Sautereau, J., Robbe-Vincent, A., …& Bain, O. (2012). Visualizing non infectious and infectious Anopheles gambiae blood feedings in naive and saliva-immunized mice. PloS one, 7(12), e50464.