In 2015, more than 1.5 million people were killed by animals. That’s a startling figure. To put it in perspective, that’s about the same number of people who died from HIV/AIDS or diabetes last year.
Some of the culprits are the usual suspects of the animal kingdom. Lions, for instance, with their incredible ability to stalk prey, are responsible for the deaths of about 100 people. Hippos, very territorial, are more dangerous, claiming about 500 lives. Crocodiles are even more deadly, killing 1,000 people.
But take a look at this interactive chart and you might be surprised to learn that the heavyweights of the animal kingdom do the least damage. Pound for pound, a shark isn’t that scary compared with many smaller creatures on the list. Explore this graphic to find out why.
(You can also learn more about one of the biggest killers here.)
World’s Deadliest Animals
Number of people killed by animals, 2015
By far, mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on earth. Mosquitoes carrying malaria kill a child every minute.
Human-on-human deaths are killer. In 2015, homicides made up around 409,000 deaths, war approximately 172,000 deaths.
A deadly snakebite injects venom that can destroy cells or affect nerves. The wrong combination is fatal.
A single sandfly bite can inject you with a parasite that causes skin sores and ulcers. If the infection reaches vital organs, death often follows.
Most dog-caused deaths are due to rabies. Untreated rabies causes bizarre behavior, such as an irrational fear of water, and usually results in death.
Bites often occur near the mouth, hence this killer’s name. The parasite in the bug’s feces causes the often-deadly Chagas disease.
Bites from these snails release a parasitic flatworm which lays eggs in the bloodstream. Death results from damage to major organs.
A scorpion’s venom is delivered by a brute sting from its tail. Luckily, few species have venom strong enough to kill humans.
Tsetse fly bites transmit parasites that attack the central nervous system, causing confusion and seizures, until the body shuts down fully.
Roundworm eggs enter the body via contaminated food or drink. Eggs hatch in the intestines, and adult worms can obstruct major organs.
Some species can live inside the body with no symptoms for years. If untreated, tapeworms can cause blindness, seizures, dementia, and death.
Crocodiles usually clamp down on their victims and submerge them under water, drowning their prey before consuming it.
Hippopotami are aggressive, territorial animals who are known to charge humans in boats. Victims of hippo attacks often die from drowning.
Rarely, elephants’ aggression turns toward humans. They’ve been known to invade villages at night, wrecking homes and trampling residents.
Lions hunt in groups, stalking their prey until going for the kill. On occasion, lions attack villages, killing and eating unlucky victims.
For severely allergic humans, a bee sting causes the throat to swell, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness.
The tiger will snap the spinal cord of smaller prey, or attack the throat of larger animals with its large, powerful jaws.
Stings from a jellyfish deliver venom that attacks the nervous system. Victims typically go into shock and drown before heart failure sinks in.
Wolves rarely attack humans, but when they do, they bite their prey repeatedly in the head and face until dragging them off to be consumed.
Sharks only kill about six people every year, but humans harvest roughly 100 million sharks every year.
SOURCES: IHME, WHO, CrocBITE, FAO, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, International Shark Attack File, National Geographic, PBS, National Science Foundation, CDC, WWF, French Institute of Research for Development, Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, Nature. All calculations have wide error margins.