Most dangerous ant
Found in Australia’s coastal areas the bulldog
ant (
Myrmecia pyriformis
), seen above eating a
European hornet (
Vespa crabro
), attacks with
its sting and jaws simultaneously. It has caused
at least three human deaths since 1936.
Longest-lived species
of venomous lizard
The Mexican beaded lizard
Heloderma horridum
is a black-
and-yellow forest-dwelling
species that measures
up to 90 cm (35 in) long.
One specimen lived in
captivity for 33 years
and 11 months.
Most toxic species
of waterfowl
The African spur-winged goose
(
Plectropterus gambensis
) is native
to wetlands in western Africa. This
large species, which at 75–115 cm
(30–45 in) is Africa’s largest
waterfowl, sequesters a poison
called cantharidin within its
tissue from the blister beetles
that it eats. Just 10 mg (0.0003 oz)
of cantharidin can kill humans; its
flesh becomes so toxic that it can
prove fatal to people who eat it.
Most venomous
gastropod:
Cone shells
(
Conus
); contains a fast-
acting neurotoxic venom
that, in several species,
can be fatal to humans.
ACTUAl
SIZE
ACTUAl
SIZE
most
venomous viper
The saw-scaled viper (
Echis
carinatus
), seen above being
“milked” for its venom, grows
up to 80 cm (31.5 in) long
and can inject as much as
12 mg (0.0004 oz) of venom
in a single bite. Just 5 mg
(0.0001 oz) is sufficient to kill
an adult human.
ACTUAl
SIZE
Native to the mountains of
Japan, the Asian giant hornet
(
Vespa mandarinia
) has a body
length of 5.5 cm (2.2 in), with
a wing-span of approximately
7.6 cm (3 in). Its sting can grow
to 0.6 cm (0.25 in) long and
inject a venom so powerful
that it dissolves human tissue.
Largest hornet
venom
Most venomous spider
The Brazilian wandering spiders of the genus
Phoneutria
are the most venomous spiders.
The Brazilian huntsman spider (
P. fera
) – seen
here consuming a frog – has the most active
neurotoxic venom of any living spider. Just
0.006 mg (0.00000021 oz) is sufficient to kill a
mouse.
Phoneutria
spiders have a body-and-
leg spread of around 17 cm (6.7 in).
030
ants | scorpions | snakes | wasps
You’ll find both venomous and
poisonous creatures on these pages.
So what’s the difference between
the two? It’s all to dowith the way the
toxin is delivered: venom is injected
into a victim, while poison is part of
an animal’s body and becomes toxic
when the animal is touched or eaten.
dangers from the deep
Most dangerous sea urchin:
Flower sea urchin (
Toxopneustes
pileolus
); toxin from spines and
pedicellaria (pincer-like organs)
causes pain, respiratory problems
and paralysis.
Largest venomous lizard
At up to 3 m (9 ft 10 in) long and weighing as much as 70 kg
(154 lb 5 oz), the Komodo dragon (
Varanus komodoensis
) is
both the
largest venomous lizard
and the
largest species of
venomous land animal
. Although scientists have long known
that in the wild state its saliva contains pathogenic bacteria, it
was only in 2009 that this species was also shown to possess a
pair of true venom-secreting glands, present in its lower jaw.
Most venomous mollusc:
Two
species of blue-ringed octopuses
(
Hapalochlaena maculosa
and
H. lunulata
); delivers a fairly painless
bite that can kill in minutes.
Most poisonous edible fish:
Puffer fish (
Tetraodon
); contains
a fatally poisonous toxin called
tetrodotoxin, just 0.1 g (0.004 oz)
of which can kill an adult in
20 minutes.
First venomous dinosaur
Having examined a well-
preserved skull from the dinosaur
Sinornithosaurus
, a team led by
Empu Gong (China) reported in
2009 that this dinosaur possessed
features indicating that it had been
venomous, including prominent
grooves running down the outer
surface of its unusually long, fang-
like mid-jaw teeth. This was the
first time that evidence for venom
production by a dinosaur had ever
been put forward.
Sinornithosaurus
lived in what is now China and
dates from the early Cretaceous
Period (24.6 million to 22 million
years ago).
Most poisonous frog
The poison of the golden poison-
dart frog (
Phyllobates terribilis
)
is toxic enough to kill 10 adult
humans or 20,000 lab mice. Native
American tribes sometimes tipped
their blowdarts with poison from
these creatures – hence the frog’s
common name – although very
few of the 175-plus species have
been used for this purpose.
ACTUAl
SIZE
12
Number of
meals per year on
which a Komodo
dragon can
survive.
Mostvenomousmarinesnake:
Hydrophis belcheri
(
below
); has a
myotoxic venom far more toxic than
that of any land snake. The common
beaked sea snake (
Enhydrina schistosa
)
is probably equally as venomous.
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