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They say you should never poke a bear, but an overly confident 6% of Americans would.
A new online survey by YouGov — which appears to serve no higher purpose than to entertain — has revealed that, despite our reputation for arrogance, Americans are surprisingly realistic when it comes to fantasy match-ups pitting humans against beasts.
The ridiculous statistic, taken from a poll of 1,224 US adults aged 18 and over, asked participants to answer the query “Which animal do you think would win in a fight?” — humans included. The survey asked each volunteer to select one of two animals in a hypothetical head-to-head and answer seven rounds of pairings.
It should come as no surprise that the mighty elephant and fierce rhinoceros won out against more than 30 other predators and prey 74% of the time, securing their title as true rulers of the wild — at least, from humans’ perspective.
Grizzly bears got third billing (73%), then tigers (70%) and, in fifth place, the hippopotamus (69%) — who beat out some of the most agile hunters in all the animal kingdom, including the lion (68%) and a number of other big cats. It’s an astute assessment as the hippo, clocking in at about three tons, is widely considered to be one of the world’s deadliest animals, and kills some 500 people each year in Africa alone.
What followed is a pretty typical cast of ferocious characters, like the crocodile (67%) or the alligator (65%); the gorilla and the polar bear (each 64%). Notably raging reptiles — the anaconda, King Cobra and the Komodo dragon — all had strong showings. Even a few ruminants — the buffalo, bull and moose — were highly regarded.
Geese were considered the least of all formidable animals, winning just 14% of the time. Humans came next with 17%. Even a honey badger (37%) got more backing than us.
Survey data was also reorganized to reflect how humans ranked themselves against all other animals. Turns out we showed a healthy fear for some of the most savage beasts in more than 90% of match-ups, including against crocs, gorillas, elephants and lions.
Nearly half of us think we could take down a mid-sized dog, while just 23% would clash with a large canine. (In reality, dogs are more blight than bite: Rabies caused by feral dog bites kill tens of thousands globally per year, according to the World Health Organization, whereas, last year in the US, just 36 people died from injuries caused by dogs.) And put us in front of a rat, house cat or common landfowl and folks will put their money on our species about two-thirds of the time.
However, there’s one animal the survey didn’t name that deserves a nod: the mosquito. They may seem easy to squash, but the humble insect is responsible for more human deaths — hundreds of thousands — than any other animal, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Probably because, well, who could see them coming?
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