Fascinating but Deadly
Scorpions, bears, and poison-dart tree frogs
by David Johnson
Profiles of Dangerous Animals
The scorpion may be one of the most unloved of all animals. Despite its reputation, only a few of the scorpion species are fatal to healthy humans. Most scorpion stings are painful, but not toxic. The most dangerous species live in the Sahara Desert, the Middle East, and in parts of Mexico. The toxin of one scorpion species found in Arizona and southeastern California can be dangerous to some people. Worldwide, several hundred people are believed to die from scorpion stings annually, earning these animals a place on the list of the most deadly.
There are eight species of bear. Although bears have a dangerous reputation, most bears avoid contact with humans. Black bears, found in much of North America, will rarely attack. In the past 100 years, there have been only 40 reported deaths caused by black bears in North America.
However, black bears should still be treated with extreme caution. If you are hiking in the woods and encounter a bear, do not try to touch or feed it. Avoid eye contact and back away slowly, giving the animal plenty of room to escape. Bears that frequent campgrounds can be especially dangerous since they may have lost their natural fear of people.
Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bear. They are now found primarily in the Rocky Mountains, western Canada, and Alaska. Color is never a sign of a bear species, since either black or brown bears could appear white, blonde, or black depending on their age or the season. Male grizzlies are larger than black bears, standing seven feet tall and weighing as much as 600 pounds. Experts say brown bears should be observed from a distance of at least 100 yards. Females with cubs, or bears eating or guarding food, such as a dead animal, could be particularly dangerous. Grizzly bears are believed responsible for ten deaths in Alaska in 2000.
Poison-Dart Tree Frogs
Bedecked in an array of bright colors, these tiny frogs are among nature’s most cheerful-looking creatures. But in nature, bright colors are often a warning to stay away. Fifty-five species of poison-dart frog live in the rainforests of Central and South America. Some produce the most toxic biological substances known. Phyllobates terribilis is the most poisonous frog. A tiny drop, 0.00000007 ounces, of its skin secretion is probably enough to kill a person.
Elephants, big cats, and Cape buffaloes
Sharks, snakes, sea wasps, and blue-ringed octopuses
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