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The Top 20 Deadliest Animals Will Shock You

When we think about animal attacks, the most common imagery that leaps to mind is usually something out of Jaws -- but did you know that sharks cause the smallest number of attacks on people? According to research published on Bill Gates' blog, Gates Notes, sharks are responsible for an average of six attacks on humans a year, ranking last in the Top 20 World's Deadliest Animals.

Based on these findings from 2015, the inconspicuous bee is about 10 times more deadly than these ancient aquatic predators, which have killed around 57 people in North America over the past 50 years -- second to brown bears, with 70 recorded fatalities since 1970.

Curious who's #1? Scroll down to find out!

19. Wolves

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With just 2 fatalities a year in North America and 10 worldwide, wolves are the second-to-last deadliest animals per the Gates Notes survey. According to the research, wolf attacks on humans are rare and typically occur due to rabies, fear, or provocation by victims.

18. Jellyfish

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Turns out that jellyfish are the bigger terror of the ocean compared to sharks -- at least, as far as human victims are concerned. With 40 fatalities a year, these gelatinous nopes might look majestic and elegant while swirling their tendrils underwater but they pack a painful sting that can be deadly in some species, such as the box jellyfish and the Irukandji jellyfish.

17. Tigers

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Fearsome predators of the rainforest and the savanna, tigers cause around 50 human fatalities a year. Given their specific habitats, people seldom cross paths with tigers, with the vast majority of attacks typically reported in India. However, zoo attacks do occur occasionally, as was the case at the San Francisco zoo in 2007.

16. Bees

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Bees and vespid insects, such as wasps and hornets, kill 60 people on average every year. Ranking among the deadliest animals in the United States, per CBS News, these fatalities occur in people who are allergic to their venom and go into anaphylactic shock after being stung.

15. Lions

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The king of the jungle is oddly not the king of this list and isn't even in the Top 10 deadliest animals in the world. Although attacks on poachers and unsuspecting tourists on safari do happen, lions are only responsible for 100 human fatalities a year -- a tie with another sovereign beast of the savanna, the mighty elephant.

14. Elephants

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Just like lions, elephants are known to occasionally cause the loss of human life -- except, in their case, it's not because we make for much easier prey than, let's say, a buffalo. The largest living land animals, elephants can grow up to 13 feet tall and weigh as much as seven tons, which makes them incredibly dangerous when agitated. Especially in regions such as eastern India where urban development encroaches on their habitat, elephants on a rampage still cause human fatalities.

13. Hippopotamuses

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Another herbivore you don't want to cross is the hippopotamus. Although smaller than elephants, hippos are notoriously aggressive and account for 500 human deaths a year -- five times as many as their pachyderm cousins.

12. Crocodiles

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An even bigger threat on the water than sharks and jellyfish, crocodiles kill 1,000 people a year. Hailing back to the Cretaceous when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, these fierce reptiles have remained virtually unchanged for tens of millions of years and are perfectly evolved killing machines.

11. Tapeworms

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Not all killers in the animal kingdom are out to eat you; sometimes, you're the one who ingests them, albeit unwittingly, and end up suffering the consequences. One such example is the tapeworm, which is responsible for 1,600 human deaths a year. These parasitic worms can be contracted from eating raw or undercooked meat, specifically beef or pork. Fish isn't completely safe either, since they can carry the worm's eggs and still pose a risk of infection.

10. Ascaris roundworms

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Another nightmare from the realm of parasitic worms is the Ascaris roundworm, also known as the small intestinal roundworm. At around 30 cm long, these are the largest roundworms that parasitize the human intestine, per the CDC, and cause around 2,700 deaths every year. If the infection is left untreated, the worms can even migrate from the small intestine to other organs, including the liver, lungs, and heart.

9. Tsetse flies

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The Tsetse fly may be drab in appearance but it carries microscopic parasites known as trypanosomes which can infect people through fly bites. These microorganisms can cause African trypanosomiasis disease, also called sleeping sickness, which claims 3,500 human fatalities a year. According to the CDC, symptoms include fatigue, high fever, headaches, and muscle aches, with the disease becoming fatal if left untreated.

8. Scorpions

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Scorpions are known for their venomous sting, which can occasionally be deadly to humans. Even though only 30 out of the 1,500 estimated worldwide species produce venom toxic enough to be fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic, scorpions "are a significant public health problem in areas where access to medical care is limited." Out of the estimated one million scorpion stings a year, 3,500 lead to human fatalities -- a tie with the Tsetse fly.

7. Freshwater snails

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Just like the Tsetse fly, freshwater snails carry parasites that can be deadly to humans. These unassuming mollusks play host to parasitic worms that can cause schistosomiasis, a disease that damages the liver, intestines, and spleen. According to the CDC, schistosomiasis "is second only to malaria as the most devastating parasitic disease" and even though the worms that cause it are not found in the US, 4,400 people die every year from contact with freshwater snails. The worst part is that you don't even need to touch the snail in order to get infected; all it takes is for the skin to come in contact with the water where these snails live.

6. Kissing bugs

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Despite their cute name, kissing bugs are just about the last thing you might want to get cuddly with. Also known as assassin bugs, these insects carry a parasite that can cause Chagas disease and kill 8,000 people every year. Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, these creepy crawlers have a knack for finding their way into our homes and are known to live both indoors as well as beneath porches, in dog kennels, and chicken coops, per the CDC. And, because they're nocturnal, kissing bugs (official name: triatomine bugs) are most likely to bite you when you sleep. Enjoy the insomnia this little tidbit has likely brought you.

5. Dogs

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All dogs are good dogs according to the internet but sometimes man's best friend can also be very deadly. According to the Gates Notes survey, 17,400 people lose their lives in dog attacks every year.

4. Sandflies

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With 24,200 fatalities per year, sandflies are the fourth deadliest animals in the world. While they measure no more than 3.5 mm, their bite can cause an infection with Leishmania parasites, which, in turn, can lead to a parasitic disease called leishmaniasis. "There are several different forms of leishmaniasis in people," informs the CDC. "The most common forms are cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores, and visceral leishmaniasis, which affects several internal organs (usually spleen, liver, and bone marrow)."

3. Snakes

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Making it into the Top 3 deadliest creatures on Earth, snakes account for 60,000 human deaths a year. For instance, the black mamba, also known as Africa's deadliest snake, can kill a person with just two drops of venom, per Live Science. Even more deadly is the inland taipan which only needs a teeny bit of venom to become lethal.

2. Humans

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It's easy to look for culprits elsewhere but the reality is people kill an overwhelming number of people every year. Either through violence, accidents, or military actions, people are responsible for 580,000 deaths a year -- over 4.5 times more than all the creatures on this list thus far combined.

1. Mosquitos

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You might pay it little mind when you hear it buzzing about around you but the mosquito is, in fact, the #1 deadliest creature on the planet. This not-so-silent killer is responsible for a host of mosquito-borne illnesses including Malaria, Zika, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and yellow fever. All of these diseases can be fatal, the deadliest of which is Malaria -- according to the World Health Organization, 627,000 people died of Malaria worldwide in 2020. Branded as the world's deadliest animal, the mosquito claims 830,000 human lives a year.

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