Toxic, more toxic, most toxic ...
Some species of animals such as spiders, snakes or scorpions cause primordial fears or even phobias in many people, as they are inevitably linked to toxicity and danger. In fact, some of the world's most toxic animals belong to these groups. However, some species, some of which produce lethal toxins to humans, are rarely associated with mortal danger, but can cause death in a few moments if contact is not made in a timely manner. The most poisonous animals of the earth live mainly in tropical areas of Asia and South America as well as in Australia. Therefore, there are hardly any fatal incidents in Europe due to poisoning caused by contact with animals.
Especially in Australia, the chance of meeting a dangerous animal is comparatively high. Located south of Asia and surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the state is considered the home of some of the most dangerous creatures in the world. These include the so-called Seewespe, also known under the Latin name Chironex fleckeri cube jellyfish. It mainly populates the waters along the coast of North and Western Australia, but is also occasionally found in the Western Pacific. Although the sea wasp is relatively rare, up to seventy deaths per year are due to encounters with this cnidarian. The sea wasp has three-meter-long tentacles with nettle cells that release fine, wetted with the poison threads on contact. These penetrate the skin within seconds and lead to muscle paralysis, respiratory arrest and finally cardiac arrest within a few minutes. The amount of poison from a single seabream can kill 250 people.
Equally fatal may be an encounter with a Sydney funnel web spider or Atrax robustus, which is widespread in Australia and is even found in the middle of the Sydney metropolitan area. Especially at the mating season, when the males swarm out, it often comes to fatal encounters, because their venom paralyzes the muscles and breathing and leads to death without help heart failure.
Among the snakes, the native Taipan native to Australia and Dubois's Sea Serpent are considered the most poisonous representatives. Settled in the waters of Southeast Asia, Dubois' Sea Serpent calls for the deaths of numerous fishermen every year. The venom of the Inland Taipan, also known as the Dread Viper, is fifty times stronger than that of the cobra.
The world's most toxic fish is also found in Australia. In the marine shallow waters of many tropical reefs live stone fish in depths of up to thirty meters and produce in defense of a highly effective nerve poison, which they deliver via a sting. Although Australian physicians have developed an antiserum against the neurotoxin, sixty percent of all people who come into contact with the sting of the superbly camouflaged fish die as a result of poisoning.
Australia, like the Philippines, New Guinea and Indonesia, is also home to the highly venomous blue-ringed octopus, whose skin changes color when threatened and displays bright-light blue rings. While not aggressive, this cephalopod is accidentally disturbed, it bites, and injects its victim with a highly potent neurotoxin. Only artificial respiration protects against stifling after a bite when fully conscious.
Also, the coon anemones, a multi-species genus of skeletal flower animals, are among the most toxic species in the world. Despite their high toxicity they are very popular as aquarium animals, whereby the attitude strict security measures are to be observed. Crusted anemones produce palytoxin, from which traces are enough to cause paralysis of the entire musculature. Since there is no antidote, most poisoning with Palytoxin ends with agonizing death.
In the rainforests of Central and South America live several species of brightly colored poison dart frogs such as Phyllobates terribilis, which produce a highly toxic secretion in the skin. The natives of South America poisoned their arrows with the skin secretions, which causes muscle and respiratory paralysis on contact. The poison of a single little frog can kill up to ten people at the same time.
Only one species of the world's most poisonous animals is also native to the European continent. The Yellow Mediterranean Scorpion uses its poison, which can be fatal at just 0.3 milligrams per kilogram of body weight to paralyze its prey. Since the scorpion living in Turkey, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula is very aggressive, poisoning with secretions built on various neurotoxins are not uncommon.