Big things come in small packages. This sentiment rings true throughout nature, and is probably most evident in the animal kingdom, where something smaller than your pinkie nail can land you in the funeral parlor before you can say "Aww! A little jellyfish!"
From poison-coated frogs, to deadly snails, to a fiendish fish that swims up into your junk, Kingdom Animalia is packed to the gills with tiny creatures that can kill you in various, horrendous ways. This is why I'm not a vegan.
1. Poison dart frog
Though it looks like something they'd put on a mug at the Rainforest Cafe, the poison dart frog is—shockingly—murderously poisonous. The lil' guys secrete extremely dangerous toxins through their skin, and indigenous peoples in Central and South America have been known to rub their arrows and darts on the frogs in order to give them a poisoned tip. Bottom line: if you touch one, seek assistance. The only trip you'll get from licking this dude is a one-way ticket to the crematorium.
2. Malo kingi jellyfish
Of the Irukandji jellyfish family. It's frequently referred to as the "kingslayer" after a victim, Robert King, was stung (and killed) by one off the coast of Northern Australia. Though it's smaller than a fingernail, the jelly's sting holds some of the strongest venom in the world, and can cause Irukandji syndrome, leading to severe pain, vomiting, rapid rise in blood pressure, and death.
3. The brown recluse spider
While the black widow gets all the glory and glamour in the death-giving tiny spider world, the brown recluse is almost as deadly, and more common, to the U.S. The spiders aren't typically aggressive, but when they bite, it really, really sucks. Their noshes basically kill your skin cells, causing vacuous, gaping holes that can lead to some serious, life-threatening, Civil War-style gangrene.
4. Pfeffer’s flamboyant cuttlefish
Though it sounds like a nautically-themed gay bar, the flamboyant cuttlefish has extremely poisonous muscle tissue, despite its tiny (two- to three-inch, max) frame. So basically, if you ever make it to Australia, don't bite into one, and you should be fine. In fact, maybe you shouldn't bite small creatures at all, just as an overall life rule.
5. Blue dragon
It looks like something out of a Japanese sci-fi movie, and it's basically just as bizarre. The blue sea slug floats near the top of the water and is equipped with stinging nematocysts—essentially little microscopic agents of doom and despair—that are unleashed to kill prey, or ward off intruders. Besides that, they make great pets.
6. Safari ants
Also known as siafu, safari ants can do way more than ruin your picnic. Their jaws are so strong, that tribal warriors in East Africa use them as emergency field sutures. They travel nomadically in massive, squirm-inducing lines (thousands of ants deep). They are aggressive and carnivorous. Their bites hurt like hell, and they will literally devour anything that stands in their way. Including you. And your picnic.
7. Blue-ringed octopus
These adorable little octopi have some beautiful blue spots, but, as we learned in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, sometimes the most beautiful creatures in the world can be be the deadliest. Their venom, secreted by their salivary glands, stands as one of the strongest in the ocean and is nearly identical to the one found in the aforementioned dart frog. Luckily, the octopi in question is known to be quite docile and prefers hunting shrimp and hermit crabs to destroying human lives.
8. Japanese giant hornet
These monstrously-sized hornets (they can grow to be almost two inches long) are known to be extremely aggressive, and their six-millimeter stinger packs venom that can easily kill a human adult (it's estimated 30-40 people die in Japan every year from the hornet's sting). Thankfully, they reside exclusively in Japan, so it's their problem.
9. Predatory cone snail
For the most part, the words "snail" and "deadly" don't usually mix. However, in the case of the cone snail—which has accounted for upwards of 30 human deaths—they go hand in slimy hand. The reef-dwelling little fella unleashes a harpoon-like tooth to sting its prey, and there is no known cure for the venom. I take back all the awful, condescending things I've ever said about snails.
10. Deathstalker scorpion
This is single-handedly the most dangerous scorpion of them all. Their sting is extraordinarily painful and fatal if left untreated, particularly for children and the elderly. The scorpion is found naturally in Northern and East Africa, as well as across the Middle East. You better hope you don't run into one in the United States, because the necessary anti-venom is not approved by the FDA. Bureaucracy, at its deadliest.
Ticks, scourge of hatless hikers and my dog Molly, aren't just threatening you with Lyme disease and a case of going "Ewwwwww" a lot. Tick paralysis is caused by a neurotoxin found in the insect's salivary gland, which leads to respiratory problems, and if left untreated, death. Everybody, check your hair. Right. Now.
The Pufferfish came damn close to killing Homer Simpson, which alone is valid reason for its inclusion on this list. Despite its prickly appearance, the most dangerous part of this little creature is its poison, which is considered to be one of, if not THE most dangerous and powerful in the world. Good news though: you won't get poisoned unless you eat one, so stick to the California roll.
Known alternately as the vampire, or toothpick fish, the Candiru is possibly the most horrifying diminutive animal on this planet—that is, if you believe the rumors... According to local (unofficial) legend, this little fish has a predilection for swimming up unassuming swimmers' urethras in the jungles of the Amazon and lodging itself in there with its tiny set of catfish-like whiskers. It might not kill you, but should you experience its nightmarish attack, you'll probably wish it had.