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What’s the most dangerous animal ever?

Updated on February 9, 2011

Did you know that half the human beings who have ever lived, about as many as 47 billion people, have been killed by female mosquitoes? (The males only bite plants.)

These little monsters carry more than a hundred potentially fatal diseases, including yellow fever, encephalitis, dengue fever, malaria, elephantiasis and filariasis. These diseases kill one person every 12 seconds every single day.

The Discovery of Mosquitoes

What is amazing is that nobody had a clue that mosquitoes posed a danger until the end of the 19th century, until the time of the British doctor Sir Patrick Manson, also known as "Mosquito" Manson, who proved in 1877 that mosquito bites were responsible for elephantiasis.

17 years later, it occurred to the good doctor that mosquitoes might also be responsible for malaria disease. Therefore, he prompted his student Ronald Ross, a young doc based in India, to test his hypothesis regarding malaria.

So it happened that Ross became the first person to describe how the Plasmodium parasite is transmitted through the saliva of female mosquitoes. He used birds to test his theory, but Manson had a better idea. He infected his own son with malaria using mosquitoes transported in the diplomatic bag from Rome to show the truth of his theory.

Ronald Ross got the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1902; while Manson was knighted and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. he went on to be the founder of the London School of Tropical Medicine.

Ugly Mosquito full of Blood
Ugly Mosquito full of Blood

Mosquito Facts

  • Today, there exist about 2,500 known species of mosquito, of which 400 are members of the Anopheles family. Out of this 400, 40 species are capable of transmitting malaria disease.
  • Female mosquitoes suck blood to use it to mature their eggs, which they lay on water. After hatching into aquatic larvae, or wrigglers, the pupae of mosquitoes, called tumblers, actively swim about unlike those of most other insects.
  • Male mosquitoes hum at a higher pitch than females: they can be sexually enticed by the note of a B-natural tuning fork.
  • Female mosquitoes are drawn to their hosts by carbon dioxide, moisture, body heat, milk, and movement, therefore pregnant women and generally sweaty people run a higher risk of being bitten.

Mosquito means "small fly" in Spanish and Portuguese. Their motto is:


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