It’s pretty amazing to think about how you came to be. Thanks to your ancestors not getting squashed, infected, tortured, starved, drowned, mortally wounded, eaten, or having met any other perilous fate. Then going on to meet the exact mate, administer the exact genetic combination, at the exact moment. Then one out of a million other competitors, that one little swimmer that would inevitably make you, breaks a barrier first leaving the other 999,999 possibilities to perish. The chances of you existing are 1 in 6 x 10 to the hundredth power. That’s a six with 97 zeros behind it. That’s pretty damn amazing.
Then, on a daily basis we have to avoid countless ways to die: car accidents, viruses, being hit by a bus, airplane crashes, toxins, cancers, and even paper cuts. Like Stephen Hawking said, even people who believe everything is predestined look both ways before crossing the street. Most of us fear death, while some welcome it. Is death what we really fear or is it simply change that scares us? The horrifying thought that life goes on without us. Nature is the biggest mass murderer known. She can kill us quickly, slowly, painfully, never gracefully and always horrible, here are 15 ways that mother nature can kill you.
15. The Blue-Ringed Octopus
There are many dangers that are lurking beneath the sea, the most notorious, the great white shark, is most likely the biggest fear in the deep. However, there is a creature more deadly, even more so because you might not even notice something happened until you’re already dead. This creature carries enough venom to kill twenty-six humans, and it only measures five to eight inches in size.
Discovered in recent years off the coast of Australia, the blue-ringed octopus looks rather plain at first, that is, until you piss it off. Then, the tiny creature begins turning bright yellow and blue, its signal to back off. If the warning goes unheeded, the octopus begins biting. The problem is that being so small and the bites being minuscule, the diver often doesn’t even notice they have been attacked, that is until the get a heart attack and their lungs start seizing. The blue-ringed octopus produces a neurotoxic venom for which there is no anti-venom.
14. Hydrogen Sulfide
Hot springs are beautiful wonders and our naturally-provided hot tubs, littered all over the world, they are a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. What these tourists should know, however is that these natural hot tubs can be their end. Hydrogen sulfide is produced one of two ways; when organic material decomposes under the right conditions it can produce this lethal gas, and also when sulfide materials (like those found in natural hot springs) are mixed with water.
When this gas is released into the air, it can kill a human before they draw their second breath. Like other natural gases, hydrogen sulfide does produce a sulfuric smell (like rotten eggs), however, it also deadens one’s sense of smell as well. Besides, if one did survive the initial sniff, the gas is also highly corrosive, flammable, and explosive.
13. Moon Dust
Chances are slim that one needs worry about going to the moon. However, for those brave few that have and will be there, an unexpected danger awaits. During an Apollo mission in 1972, the astronauts smelled the last thing one probably wants to when 238,900 miles away from help, gun powder.
Turns out, they had tracked in some debris that was highly corrosive, abrasive, and gets in everything, even their suits. By the time the astronauts caught on, the joints of their suits were stiff and it had eaten through three layers of a Kevlar-like material. The problem is that this tiny particle is ubiquitous in this locale— it’s moon dust. They had tracked it in by walking on the Sea of Tranquility. The long-term effects from inhalation can be detrimental to one’s health as well.
It starts miles off shore, an earthquake of a strong magnitude occurs and sends a shock wave through the ocean. This wave can travel at speeds up to 500 MPH until nearing the shore when they slow. Although the speed reduces to around 15-20 MPH, the wave’s height rises and can reach as high as 100 feet. They can come on with little to no warning and if you think you can outrun it, think again.
You would have to run six miles in a minute and even so, without gaining elevation there would be no way to escape it; tsunamis can travel as far as ten miles inland. Being hit by the initial wave would be like a car impact at like speeds, you would be swept away, likely collide with debris, and blunt force trauma would presumably be the cause of your death, and a slow one if you’re unlucky. If not, drowning would definitely get you.
11. Bear Mauling
You’re enjoying a hike through the mountain woods. It’s bear country, all the same, you know attacks on humans are rare, so it’s of little concern. Consequently, there are variables, as in hunger intensity for example. After lunch you encounter a large, lone male brown bear who is suffering from food stress, a condition brought on by lack of foraging and hunger, and he is not scared off from your defensive measures. While under the conditions of food stress, desperation overpowers fear.
He hits you with the power of a vehicle traveling up to thirty miles per hour. Knocking you on the ground, he pins you with his 8-inch-paw, digging into your flesh with his 3-inch-claws. Then, the 800 lb beast begins to scalp you with its teeth, in a panic, you attempt to fight it off and you manage to roll over, only for the bear to strike instinctively at your neck. The only remains they’ll find will be in the blood-hungry bear’s stomach when they have to hunt it down.
A fear that resides in all of us, even in those that boast the opposite, there is a small pocket in the recesses of the mind that is terrified of the idea. It could be a primal response, conditioning, past life experience even. Most likely, it’s deep-seeded since stories of the horrible death it entails would send shivers down the most jaded horror fan’s back. If one is lucky, they are unconscious when it happens, for those not so fortunate, death is a welcomed release.
So ingrained is the notion to not breath under water that a drowning individual will hold their breath even when desperate for air. Eventually, however, the body’s need to survive outweighs the individual’s strength and, even as darkness begins fading in from the corner of their eyes, the real pain begins. Breathing in water is a feeling of endless choking. For a small 10%, the water hitting the vocal cords causes a chain reaction that signals back to the esophagus to close. Drowning without water. For the other 90% water fills the lungs and there is no more ability for them to produce oxygen. Weakened, one loses the ability to continue struggling and sinks into the darkness of deep water.
9. Flesh Eating Bacteria
Microbes are infinitesimally small. So small, it’s hard to comprehend just how they can wipe out entire species in the blink of Time’s eye. Despite all of our innovations, even humans cannot completely combat these tiny sociopaths. There is one in particular that is such a horrible way for nature to end you that you’ll wish it had been just about anything else. Necrotizing Fasciitis, the flesh eating disease, does exactly that— the patient is rotting while still alive.
Typically, an array of microbes is responsible for this ghastly plague and is more prevalent in individuals with a weaker immune system, as in diabetes and cancer patients. Along with horrible disfigurement, symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and severe depression (can you wonder why?). In untreated patients, the mortality rate is 73% and comes on rather slow, after several operations including amputations. If found early, it can be treated with direct antibiotic administration, however, microbes are becoming more resilient to medicine. Before too long, they may surpass it all together.
8. Brain-Eating Amoeba
This touchy-feely microscopic a-hole typically lives in warm water (usually above eighty degrees), so primarily found in the southern part of the world. Thankfully, human casualties from this micro-murderer are rare, all the same, even knowing it’s out there is enough to give one pause. If you found yourself swimming in its territory, and breathed in some water by accident via your nasal passages, the amoeba would float its way to your brain— and this is where the magic begins.
Symptoms start with headaches, then a change in taste and smell. Not long after, vomiting, sweating, hallucinations begin and within two weeks, you are dead since the parasite has devoured its way through your brain. For those that contract the parasite, the mortality rate in the US is 97%. Nonetheless, there have been only 137 cases of this happening since 1937. Those are fairly good odds compared to other ways you could meet a painful death.
7. Shark Attack
Out of all the weapons in Mother Nature’s arsenal, the shark has the nastiest reputation. While science indicates that most attacks are due to the shark misidentifying the swimmer for a seal or fish, that offers little comfort to those attacked. To the sailors of the USS Indianapolis, they would laugh in your face if you suggested it. During the final days of World War II, the United States had developed a new secret weapon that was to be delivered to the Pacific front via the USS Indianapolis. So secret was their mission that the route was unknown to all but a few, and communications were in the black. Late one night, the ship is struck by a torpedo and sinks.
Survivors floated helplessly in the ocean, again, a secret mission meant that the distress signal had not been sent. The attacks began in the early morning hours. From the depths, sharks were systematically eating the helpless crew, biting them in half, from the waist down or toying with time, maybe just biting a foot or leg off. The tiger sharks circled the survivors and it was a fearful four days until rescue arrived, thanks to a plane flying overhead that spotted them. There were 900 who survived the sinking, 317 were rescued, and spared from nature’s eating machine. The good news is that they did deliver the weapon. One of two atomic bombs that would drop, screaming from the sky in 1945. Effectively ending the war and beginning a mad race.
This term is now generally only applied to animals, and groups of people responsible for most incidents of like today are referred to as “progressive crowd collapses.” While a herd of freaked out animals coming at you, speed not so much a concern as mass, is unlikely, being crushed by nature’s children is horrible all the same. However, in retrospect, humans are of nature, so human stampedes, excuse me, progressive crowd collapses should count.
Nevertheless, the result from being swept under foot by a ubiquitous flow of hooves under tons of animals would bring a slow and painful death. The bones would fracture and break, capillaries, arteries and even organs would rupture, and a proper landing on the skull could cause instant death. If one was “lucky” enough to survive, they would undergo countless surgeries, amputations and decompression chambers, with not much of a life to look forward to.
There have been plenty of movies depicting the catastrophic events of a volcanic eruption. But, what would happen if you fell into a volcano’s chamber? Would it be like Joe versus The Volcano? Would a sudden gas cloud rocket you back out? Maybe like Gollum? You fall until you splashed into the lake of fire and dissolve as you sink? Both of those outcomes are extremely doubtful, one even comical of course. So. What would really happen?
The fall is over two-hundred feet and the temperature rises quickly as you plummet down. The heat would be so intense that your flesh would begin to cook, burn, and then fall off. The noxious gases rise up as well, filling your lungs with poison. If you weren’t already dead, when you hit the lava chamber there would be no sinking. You, or rather your corpse by then, would float in flames until it was reduced to nothing.
Weather, in particular, could merit its own “Horrible Ways To Die” list, all the same, this is another one that makes Mother Nature a real b*tch. With little to know warning, they touch down and proceed on an indeterminate path of destruction. With speeds of 250 MPH and varying in size, these killers come on and, while random in movement, somewhat, it can appear as if they are selective. Almost like tornadoes are conscious killers.
Most deaths from these whirlwind terrors are actually caused out in the open and not directly from the tornado, generally falling structures or debris. However, what would it be like to be sucked up into one? Even if one was pulled into the tornado, chances are blunt force trauma would still be the cause of death, nonetheless, if somehow you avoided the flying chunks of debris, they would be circling at 250 MPH, the sound comparable to standing next to the tracks while an out-of-control freight train goes by, and they would gain elevation ascending towards the funnel’s top. Most likely from spinning that fast, your body would be twisted and broken— chin up, you’d at least be passed out before it got unbearably painful.
There are a plethora of horrible diseases that nature unleashes on us and other life-forms, however, there is one that is the biggest killer of all and, depending on the area of the body affected, it can be one of the slowest and most painful ways to shed the mortal coil. There are many unnatural elements that can cause this affliction, nevertheless, sometimes it manifests on its own accord, especially in children. From stomach to brain, it can invade and find foundation anywhere in our fragile physical forms.
Brain cancer or stomach cancer seem to be the worst as far as pain and length. The deadliest cancer is pancreatic, however. It kills 96% of patients within five years of diagnosis. The worst part is that pancreatic cancer does not present symptoms until the latest stage of infection. That’s why that obtrusive and awkward test is so important. The second most deadly cancer is liver, with a mortality rate of 93%. The pain is unbearable, so much so that even the strongest opiates offer only to curb it, take the edge off and no more. A patient cannot eat, sleeps poorly, is nauseated constantly, and grows weaker and weaker. That’s just to name a few. Even five years can seem like an eternity when suffering through symptoms such as those. There’s a reason they used forms of torture to emulate these symptoms.
2. Black Hole
Black holes are likely the ultimate terror in the known universe. The invisible whirlpool moves silently through space devouring any object unlucky enough to be within the event horizon. While still technically a theory, the general consensus in the scientific community is that black holes are very real and roaming the universe on paths of unreserved destruction. To be killed by one would be unimaginable. But, we’ll try anyway.
It would not be as a vacuum, nor like a tornado that would just suck you up. It would come on slow enough to where you might even realize it’s happening. At first, it may feel like a big stretch, may even feel good. Then as you leave the surface of the planet at break-neck speeds, that relaxed feeling would surely pass. If you were to survive the disembarking from terra firma, upon entering the event horizon you would be ripped to pieces as the gravity got stronger and stronger. Ripped down to nothing but atoms, dematerialized in what would most likely be a few moments. Who knows? Maybe you get reconstructed on the other side? Doubtful, but, hope can be a good thing in times of panic.
When a star explodes, it’s not something that happens quickly. Nor is it anywhere near being small in statute. The explosion can cause a shock wave that can traverse light years. The initial explosion would decimate every single thing within its solar system and maybe beyond, the shock wave that would travel across the universe would cause catastrophic damage, while in conjecture, it could be as if a nuclear bomb exploded everywhere on earth all at once. The land would lay wasted and it’s unlikely there would be many, if any, survivors. That’s just the shock wave. If our star, the sun, exploded, it would be horrible, although it’s doubtful we’d notice. Most likely a blinding light in the sky would then be proceeded by endless darkness.
There is no star anywhere near us, keeping the distance of space in mind, that is in the late stages of death. It takes millions of years for a star to complete its death throes, going through stages like ‘white dwarf’ and ‘red giant’, before finally shrinking to a condensed ball of no bueno bad time stuff, that explodes with an unimaginable force. One would be hard-pressed to even come close to imitating it or describing the force of it. Nonetheless, we have nothing to worry about as far as supernovas are concerned. Albeit, we know there are plenty of other horrible ways for nature to kill us.