Our greatest fears don't always correspond to the greatest threats to our safety. In fact, more often than not, they're the opposite of what statistics tell us. For example, most people are far more worried about being murdered than they are about car crashes, but car crashes are more than three times more likely to actually kill us. The same is true of animal attacks. While movies and TV shows depict bears, sharks, and alligators as the most bloodthirsty and deadliest animals, the data tells a different story. Of course, you certainly wouldn't want to get attacked by any of those animals — this gruesome example of a grizzly bear attack proves the point — but you're much more likely to be killed by animals we perceive as cute or harmless.
Above: Dog bites account for a substantial number of deaths each year, more than snakes and spiders combined. That doesn't mean we should be scared of dogs, but it's a good idea to be cautious in the presence of unfamiliar and/or aggressive ones. This advice is even more important for small children, who are much more susceptible to fatal attacks.
The following infographic created by Zoology Degree Online shows a quick visual comparison between the deadliest animals in the United States over the course of a decade. Each full row represents 100 fatalities over that 10-year period. Deer are the most serious threat, primarily due to their propensity for running into traffic. Horseback-riding accidents are also a substantial risk, followed by stings from bees, wasps, and hornets. Mountain lions/cougars almost didn't make the list at all, and sharks barely killed more than one person per year, despite the Jaws-induced fears surrounding them.
For more infographics along these lines, check out our previous articles: