Sat. May 18th, 2024

Goats and Soda : NPR

Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling has named the mosquito as the world’s scariest animal. He has a point.

David Gannon/AFP via Getty Images; Paul Sarosta/Getty Images


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David Gannon/AFP via Getty Images; Paul Sarosta/Getty Images


Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling has named the mosquito as the world’s scariest animal. He has a point.

David Gannon/AFP via Getty Images; Paul Sarosta/Getty Images

Ryan Gosling, fresh off his triumphant appearance as a man who looks like Beavis but is not Beavis on Saturday Night Live, has demonstrated that he has a Ken … er … keen … grasp of animal topics.

This week he took the Colbert Questionert, administered by Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show. One question: “What is the scariest animal?”

He first answered “man.” Which, who can argue? But then he did a pivot and named the mosquito.

Ding, ding, ding!

As Goats and Soda has noted in past stories, the mosquito is in fact the deadliest animal on earth.

Here’s how we sized up deadly animals:

“Sharks get a lot of press. But they are overrated as killers. According to the International Shark Attack File, curated by The Florida Program for Shark Research, the confirmed 2022 total of “unprovoked” bites was 57 — down from the 2017-2021 average of 70 a year. Five people died after an attack in 2022.

“Snakes easily eclipse sharks with their lethal toll: the World Health Organization estimates that 5.4 million people a year are bitten by snakes, with 81,000 to 138,000 deaths annually.

“Still, that’s nothing compared to mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can carry parasites for many diseases: dengue fever, zika … and malaria.

“Females of the genus Anopheles can feed on a person or animal that is infected and ingest the malaria parasite, which passes through the bug’s blood and eventually gets into its salivary glands. Then the bug bites, releasing its infectious – and potentially deadly — spit.

“UNICEF reports that ‘In 2021, there were 247 million malaria cases globally that led to 619,000 deaths in total. Of these deaths, 77% were children under 5 years of age.’

“That makes the tiny mosquito the most dangerous animal on the planet.

“And the insects appear to be expanding their reach.

“In 2023, there were a handful of cases of local transmission [of malaria] in the U.S., something that doesn’t happen that often since the massive campaign to eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the 1940s and ’50s. This year’s malaria victims had not traveled outside the country. Did U.S. mosquitoes bite someone who’d contracted malaria on a trip abroad — and then proceed to bite and infect an American? Or have warming temperatures meant that malaria-carrying mosquitoes are able to thrive in regions that previously would not be hospitable? The jury is still out regarding these specific U.S. cases — although climate change experts say that mosquitoes are indeed expanding their reach as temperatures rise.”

So kudos to you, Ryan Gosling.

P.S. We also think you nailed the question about “best sandwich.” The answer: the ice-cream sandwich. Duh, of course!

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