Sharks seem so frightening, with their giant mouths full of gleaming teeth. We're convinced they're going to leap out of nowhere and make us lunch, even if we never get within 100 miles of an ocean.
But Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote in a recent blog post that it's not sharks that scare him, but a creature that's a whole lot tinier and which at first glance may seem a whole lot less threatening -- the mosquito.
In a post that went up on his GatesNotes blog on Monday, the billionaire explains his reasoning. "Pound for pound, a shark isn't that scary compared with many smaller creatures," he writes, including a graphic displaying the number of people killed by different animals in 2015. The shark only gets credit for 6 worldwide deaths, while the mosquito notches a scarily impressive 830,000.
"The mosquito has the equivalent of a hypodermic needle, and by going directly into your blood, they bypass the normal disease defense mechanisms," Gates says in an accompanying video. "So any viruses that evolve to attack humans get in there very, very quickly."
Gates goes on to list the many diseases spread by mosquitoes, including dengue, yellow fever, zika, and last but not least, malaria, which he says "may be the most important disease in human history." Malaria has long been a top priority of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has a multi-year strategy aimed at eradicating the deadly disease.
"I think it's one of the most stunning things to say that this little mosquito, it's a small insect that you can, you know, kill with a slap of your hand, it actually kills more humans than any other thing," Gates says.