The most terrifying predator on the planet? Humans

The most terrifying predator on the planet? Humans

GrrlScientist writes:

What’s the scariest animal on the planet? Some people claim lions are. Or tigers. Or maybe wolves. Others might say sharks. But, as we learned from a recent question that went viral online, there are a lot of women out here who say that men are the most fearsome of animals — more terrifying even than meeting a bear when alone in the woods. And they are far from alone in this assessment, it appears.

A recent study posed a similar question, asking which animals might be recognized by the native wildlife in Australia as the most fearsome. Australia, being an island-continent, lacks all large carnivores, so the argument goes that native marsupials like kangaroos and wallabies show a relative lack of fear to dogs (and other introduced carnivores) because they lack evolutionary experience with them.

Yet, when it comes to humans, Australia’s native wildlife is clearly terrified of us. These animals do have 50,000 years of experience with humans and thus, immediately flee from us — even the sound of our voices is enough to clear a meadow of Australian wildlife. This, according to wildlife biologist Liana Zanette, a professor at Western University who specializes in studying the impacts of predator-induced fear on wildlife.

For this study, Professor Zanette collaborated with Calum Cunningham and Chris Johnson from the University of Tasmania and together, they demonstrated that kangaroos, wallabies and other Australian marsupials fear humans far more than any other predator. [Continue reading…]

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