Diversity in nature is so amazing there are more than 10 million different species that inhabit the earth and only about 20 percent of these have been discovered.  Biodiversity is the foundation of all our needs, from food, shelter, clothing, to medicine.  The potentials found in nature’s diversity are great, but so are the awful things that can be found in it.  Here are 10 of the worst things that have emerged from the awesome diversity in nature.

Deadliest Toxin: Botulinum

Botulinum toxin is the deadliest protein known to man and is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum is a neurotoxin that is so deadly it can kill the entire human population with only as little as two pounds of the stuff and is one of the most dangerous potential biological weapons.  The bacteria lives in low-oxygen environments and can contaminate food or open wounds or can be ingested as spores.  Food poisoning can result from as little 1 microgram, which is enough to kill a human.  It causes paralysis and death occurs due to the inability to breathe.  However, this substance is used in very safe quantities in Botox beauty treatments.

Most Vicious Animal: The Honey Badger

Honey BadgerThe Guinness Book of World Records has named the honey badger “most fearless creature.”  It may look deceptively cute but it attacks almost anything and is a very smart animal, knowing its opponents’ weak spots.  A honey badger knows to attack a male human’s testicles, for example.  Honey badgers have been known to kill crocodiles and snakes; it can eat a five-foot snake in only 15 minutes.  They are so ferocious that not even a leopard or a lion will attempt to kill one.  Honey badgers are also known to use tools, like using logs as ladders.  As the name implies, these animals love honey so much that they would not hesitate to dive into a beehive regardless of whether or not it’s safe.  Honey badgers are found in Africa and Western and Southern Asia.

Worst Insect: The Mosquito

Nothing else can beat the mosquito as the peskiest insect in the world.  Being feasted on by female mosquitoes day in and day out come summertime is not a small nuisance.  On top of their nasty blood-sucking habits, their constant buzzing is just as irritable.  Humans have awoken to mosquito bites on almost every inch of skin that these parasites can get to for as long as both have co-existed on earth.  The red, itchy bites are not the least of our worries, though.  Mosquitoes are also known to be the deadliest insects in the world.  They spread malaria through their bites and it is believed that half of the deaths of the human population throughout all of known history was from this disease.

Worst Symptomatic Disease: Fatal Familial Insomnia

Fatal familial insomnia is an inherited disease that was discovered only recently and is so rare that it has only been found in only 28 families around the world.  As the name suggests, it is a terrible and fatal disease that prevents you from sleeping and leads eventually to death.  There is no known cure and once the disease has begun, the person has between 7 to 36 months of sleeplessness until he finally dies.  The stages of fatal familial insomnia are as follows:

  1. Insomnia sets in and increases over time, which results in panic attacks, paranoia, and phobias, lasting for about four months.
  2. During the next five month, hallucinations and panic attacks worsen.
  3. Three months of continuous sleeplessness result in rapid loss of weight.
  4. Dementia soon follows.  For about the final six months, the person becomes unresponsive and mute and eventually dies.

Most Painful Bite: The Bullet Ant

Bullet AntThe pain from a bullet ant bite is claimed to be the same as the pain from being shot by a bullet, hence the name.  The pain is so acute and is described as a burning, throbbing, and all-consuming sensation that lasts for as long as 24 hours.  Like all other ant species, the bullet ants live in colonies, usually at the base of trees.  In Brazil, the Satere-Mawere tribe uses these ants to initiate boys into manhood.  Hundreds of bullet ants are attached to a glove, which is then worn by a boy who must endure their stings for 10 minutes.  This ritual is repeated several times.  The poison from the stings may paralyze the boy’s arm temporarily and may cause him to shake uncontrollably from the pain for days.  Bullet ants are found in Nicaragua and Paraguay.

Most Intrusive Weed: Salvinia Molesta

Salvinia molesta is an aquatic fern which originated from Brazil.  It is also known as kariba weed and its growth on water doubles in size every few days.  Because of its frantic rate of growth, it is common to find lakes completely covered by a 24-inch high carpet of this weed.  Due to lack of sunlight, animal and plant life in the water cease to exist.  It is almost impossible to kill the plant; a tiny piece is enough to start water infestation.  The salvinia molesta reproduces like a spore; when broken into tiny pieces, each piece starts a new growth.

Smelliest Plant: The Corpse Flower

Corpse FlowerThe corpse flower got its name from its distinct, awful smell: like that of a rotting corpse.

The plant grows a single, enormous flower, which reaches over 10 feet in diameter.

The corpse flower mimics the look of rotting meat to attract carrion eating insects.

The stink is spread as a result of its temperature, which is close to that of the human body’s.

It originated from the grasslands of Sumatra, but many display gardens around the world have made it a part of their collection.

Worst Spider: Brazilian Wandering Spider

The Brazilian Wandering Spider is enormous in size and has one of the most painful and the deadliest bites among all the spiders.  An interesting side effect of a bite from this spider is an erection that lasts for hours.  Studies are being conducted to determine its medical potential use for erectile dysfunction.

Nastiest Fish: The Candiru

The Candiru is a sliver-like parasitic catfish that is more feared in the waters of the Amazon river than the piranhas.  The Candiru feeds on blood and enters the host through even the smallest orifices of the body, most often through the gills, and latches on using the razor sharp spines on its head.  It finds its host by sniffing the water and is attracted to the smell of human urine.  The Candiru can swim up into the penis or the vagina of humans who often wade, and urinate, in the waters of the Amazon.  Once the fish has implanted itself, it causes great pain as it drinks blood and can only be removed by cutting it out.  This parasitic fish can grow up to a length of six inches.

Most Damaging to its Environment: Man

One does not have to be an environmental activist or a “tree-hugger” to recognize man’s destructive nature against nature and, ultimately, himself.  Aside from natural disasters, only the human species is capable of causing mass destructive damage that spans continents and extends across all species on earth.  We pollute the waters, the air, and the land.  We can flatten mountains and tear down forests.  We have caused the extinction and are still endangering the existence of thousands of species on earth, both discovered and undiscovered.  The theory of natural selection espouses the phrase, “survival of the fittest.”  Such is the cycle of life, but we must not forget that co-existence with other species is just as important to survival.

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