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Lurking in the ocean depths, the heart of jungles, the desert sands, or just under your feet, venomous animals strike fear into the hearts of humans around the world. Although most won't attack people unless provoked, the sting, bite, or puncture from some of these scary critters definitely can kill.
10. Brazilian Wandering Spider
The Brazilian wandering spiders belong to the genus Phoneutria. They're the most venomous spiders in the world and an arachnophobe's worst nightmare. Luckily, these spiders can bite without transferring venom and most people who are bitten with venom don't die.
The stonefish (genus Synanceia) deliver their venom through spines in their dorsal fins. These predators have been named the most venomous fish in the world. Most people who are stung by a stonefish don't die, and an antivenin is available; however, the pain from the venom can be extreme.
8. Golden Poison Dart Frog
Each golden poison dart frog (Phyllobates terribilis) contains enough poison in its body to kill 10 humans. Wild poison dart frogs live exclusively in the rain forests of Colombia. Although the golden poison dart frog has only one natural predator other than humans, serious habitat destruction has put them on the endangered species list.
Tetraodontidae is a genus of fish that includes 120 deadly species. One pufferfish contains enough of its venom, called tetrodotoxin, to kill 30 humans. No antidote to this toxin has been developed. Many people die each year in Japan from eating pufferfish meat, which is considered a delicacy in that country.
6. Geographic Cone Snail
The geographic cone snail (Conus geographus) is the most poisonous of the cone snails. These animals deliver their poison through a sharp, hollow tooth they shoot out from under their shells. Several humans have been killed by its sting and no antivenin exists.
5. Deathstalker Scorpion
Because this scorpion kills about half of its prey victims when it strikes, the deathstalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus) is considered extremely deadly. When a human is bitten the scorpion's venom causes fever, convulsions, and blood pressure spikes, and the lungs fill with fluid. Resulting heart and/or respiratory failure can lead to death if no antivenin is administered.
4. Spectacled Cobra
The spectacled cobra (Naja naja) is the snake most likely to kill a person in India. Although the king cobra is more venomous, it lives in isolated jungle areas away from human populations, whereas the spectacled cobra lives in a wider variety of places, often much closer to people.
3. Inland Taipan Snake
A bite from the inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) can kill an adult in under 45 minutes. These snakes, also called "fierce snakes," hold enough venom in reserve to kill 100 people. These somewhat unassuming-looking snakes are native only to the Australian outback. They are the most venomous snakes in the world, but few people ever die from their bites because they're reclusive in nature and antivenin is available.
2. Blue-Ringed Octopus
Three species of blue-ringed octopus live in the Pacific Ocean: Hapalochlaena lunulata, Hapalochlaena maculosa, and Hapalochlaena fasciata. All of these cephalopods are highly venomous. The octopus' poison kills by causing respiratory and heart failure. No antivenin has been created for this poison, which is stronger than that of any land animal.
1. Box Jellyfish
Delicate and graceful, no one would suspect just by looking at it that the box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) is the deadliest venomous animal on the planet. They earn this title because their venom can kill a person in under 3 minutes. Stings from box jellyfish kill several people per year, and about one per year in Australia.
- BBC Earth News: Snake-bites, a Growing, Global Threat
- BBC Nature: Inland Taipan
- National Geographic: Geographic Cone Snail
- QUEST online: Buck Rogers and the Amazing Death Stalker Scorpion
- National Science Foundation: Jellyfish Gone Wild
- National Geographic: Pufferfish
- National Geographic: Golden Poison Dart Frog
- Australian Museum: Reef Stonefish, Synanceia verrucosa
- MARINEBIO: Blue-ringed Octopuses, Hapalochlaena maculosa
- University of California Riverside: "Deadly" Banana Spider... Or Not
- Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images