Every week in the Fun Kids Science Weekly Podcast, Dan compiles a list of the meanest and cruelest things in the UNIVERSE!
From the biggest beasts, to the tiniest, most poisonous creatures on earth…if it’s dangerous, it’s on Dan’s list!
Find out which creatures and dangerous things have made the list below.
This week we’re checking out one of the most fearsome looking beasts in the world. You’ll find the Crocodile Monitor on the island of New Guinea, which is near Australia.
Now, I think they look terrifying. They’re often coloured black with menacing specks of yellow, green or white across their back. Now they look a bit like a Komodo Dragon. We’ve spoken about them on Dangerous Dan before, but these can get much longer. They can max out at five metres long. They’re one of the longest lizards in the world. They eat birds and bats and small rodents and they’ve got long fangs in their mouth, which are perfect for hooking in small creatures. They’re quick runners, too. They lie in wait and they stalk.
Now, they’re called Crocodile Monitors. They’re not crocodiles themselves. They’re other lizards. But the people who live near them believe that these creatures show. When crocodiles are nearby, the Crocodile Monitor will climb into a tree and watch and wait and stay out of danger. And this shows local tribes, people that a croc might be close. Now, they don’t tend to be that aggressive to humans, but they can be deadly. They tend to stay away. But if they do bite, they’re known to poison. So best to steer clear from the Crocodile Monitor. But watch where it is, because there might be bigger deadlier beasts on the loose.
Found in: New Guinea
Featured in ‘Are We All Moving to Mars?‘ – May 14th 2022.
Strangely, the second closest planet to the Sun, Venus, takes that Crown. It’s weird, isn’t it? It’s even more sizzling than Mercury. That’s closer to the Sun. Venus is much hotter because it’s got a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide. And all that gas traps the heat in and it bubbles and it boils away. The ground is a rusty colour. It’s covered in crunched mountains and thousands of huge volcanoes.
Now, this area so thick, the atmosphere itself would crush you. If you ever visited Venus, even before the heat fries you, you’ll be squashed by how thick and heavy the air is. Now, we don’t know too much about Venus.
The longest time any robot we have sent there has managed to last is about 2 hours. And then it got so hot, well, it broke. It reaches 860 degrees Fahrenheit, which is eight times a boiling hot day here on planet Earth. The moment you touch down, you would be crushed, you would be fried instantly. And that means Venus, the second closest planet to the sun, goes straight onto our dangerous Dan list.
Rarity: One planet
Found in: Space
Featured in ‘How Long Can A Human Survive Without a Spacesuit?‘ – May 7th 2022.
It’s time for this week’s Dangerous Dan, where we look at the most mean and cruel things in the universe. This week, it’s all about one of the fiercest foods in the world. The Carolina Reaper is the world’s hottest chilli, officially. Now, do you ever have chilli peppers on your pizza or something? Maybe set your tongue on fire a little bit, maybe on a salad? Well, there’s something called the Scoville scale, and it measures the spiciness of food.
Now, a jalapeno pepper, which is something that you might have on a pizza. It measures to about 8,000 units on the Scoville scale. Tabasco sauce that you can get sometimes you might have that. It gets up to about 10,000. The Carolina Reaper. Listen to this. Can reach up to 2.2 million on the Scoville scale. Guinness World Records have officially claimed it as the hottest chilli pepper on the planet. And it looks mean. It’s bright red, quite fat. It’s about the size of your hand. It can be wrinkly, too. It just looks mean. And it’s been made in South Carolina, a state in America.
Now, in a pepper, it’s the capsicum that gives the spice its heat. It’s a compound found in the fruit of a plant. And it’s the part near the seeds. If you eat this, you’ll start to sweat uncontrollably. You’ll start hiccupping. You’ll want to throw your tongue on Antarctica. And that’s what it’s designed to do. It’s almost a defence mechanism. It’s a way for these peppers to defend themselves against predators that might want to eat them. Now, the most amazing part about this pepper, it’s been made it’s been developed by a pepper maker, a pepper grower, a proper pepper person called Ed Curry, who wanted to make something painfully destructive. And he’s managed it with this pepper that measures 2.2 million on the Scoville scale. The Carolina Reaper is going on our Dangerous Dan list.
Found in: South Carolina
Featured in ‘Why Are We Growing Meat In Space?‘ – April 30th 2022.
This week they’re known for smiling and laughing away, but they’re anything but nice. You’ll find the Spotted Hyena in Sub-Saharan Africa. They’ve got a sandy coat with dark spots all over and they’ve got big rounded ears which are perfect for getting heat away from their body when it gets too hot. Now, it’s strange, isn’t it? They look a bit like a big cat crossed with a bear. They’re quite long and slender, though. They’re hard to pin down. And you might know from films, they’re all over the Lion King movie, aren’t they? They grin with wide, sharp teeth and they’re scavengers – which means they find other creatures that are dying and they feast on those.
Now, they tend to stay away from us humans, but it doesn’t mean they’re not devastating. They work in teams, packs. They are brutal to other animals, showing no mercy. They can devour an entire zebra, eating everything, bones and all a massive zebra in just half an hour. And when they’re really hungry, when they are starving, they forget that normally they stay away from us humans and they will eat anything or anyone they find. That’s why the hyena is going straight on our Dangerous Dan list.
Rarity: Rare (population of between an estimated 27,000-47,000 individuals)
Found in: Sub-Saharan Africa
Featured in ‘An Earth Day Special with Lucy Hawking!‘ – April 23rd 2022.
You’ll find the Tasmanian Devil on the island of Tasmania, just off Australia. They’re a marsupial, like Koalas and Kangaroos.
They’re quite smallish, and grow to under a metre, but they’re stocky, thick creatures, with jet-black fur.
They have strong jaws and sharp teeth, they’re a scavenger, so they normally eat food that is already dead.
They’ve got devil in their name, because they can be extremely mean. They’re possessive, and if something gets between them and their family, or their food, they’ve got an awful temper. They fly into a rage, they snarl, they bite, they punch, they charge. They can be incredibly dangerous, for something so small, that’s how they got their infamous name.
Rarity: Rare (population of around 20,000)
Found in: Tasmania
Featured in ‘Have we found the Fountain of Youth?‘ – April 16th 2022.
Nitrogen triiodide is a normal looking chemical that can get quite dangerous. It is a compound. Everything in the world is made of atoms. They are the building blocks of everything that you see. Now, when two different types of atoms join together, they make molecules and then compounds. Now, this compound is NI3, that’s one nitrogen atom and then three iodine atoms.
Now, when it’s made, it becomes a dry, ashy, dark chemical, and it becomes what scientists call a contact explosive. Can you guess what it does? Yeah. It explodes when it makes contact with things. It’s quite simple, really. This is very reactive. Even a little flick from a feather can make it go off, because when it becomes dry, the different elements split. And it does this with a lot of energy. And when energy needs to be released, it goes bang. It needs something so small to make it split. And then that energy explodes everywhere.
Now, this can be done in tiny amounts, which is why in many movies or TV shows, when you see a small explosion, it might be Nitrogen Triiodide that sets it off.
Featured in ‘How to Train Your Brain with Dr Ranj!’ April 9th 2022
The tree-top disease affects creepy crawlies. Normally moths, butterflies, caterpillars. Now they get it by eating dead insects that they find.
Ugh – and the virus then gets in. It takes over them and it makes them act oddly. Very oddly. It turns them into a zombie. Tree-top disease makes these caterpillars become obsessed by the light. It takes over them. And because they want to get closer to the sun in the sky. They climb the plants. They climb the trees. They want to get as high as they can until eventually they reach the top and they can’t go any higher.
Now, experts don’t really know why this happens, but it does. They try to get up as high as they can. And then, when they’re there, sadly, the creepy crawlies die. And then their bodies lie waiting for another scavenger insect to come along. Fancy a strange snack of an old creepy crawly. And then it starts all over again. The cycle continues. They eat it. They get turned into a zombie. They climb as high as they can. Then they die. Then they get eaten. And that thing, it climbs as high as it can. It keeps going on and on and on. It just happens. It’s just one of those things in nature. No one really knows why.
Featured in ‘Zombie Creepy Crawlies and What Life Will Be Like In 2052!’ April 2nd 2022.
Black-banded Sea Krait
This week we’re headed to the gorgeous beaches around Asia. Just imagine yourself on those beaches, sparkling sunshine on the baking hot sand. You’re headed into a twinkling sea, but you need to watch your feet so you don’t tread on a deadly black-banded sea krait. They are a Chinese sea snake. Now, they’ve got a short head, a thick trunk, a thick body. They’re normally green and grey with black bands streaking around it.
Now, this snake is quite slow, so they normally hide in coral near the shore and they leap out to catch their prey. And that’s fine. Now, it’s this dangerous beast, though. It’s such a dangerous beast because its venom is ten times stronger than a Cobras. It’s extremely toxic to you. Now, thankfully, the snake doesn’t randomly attack people. It only does so if it’s provoked, if it feels scared. So if you find yourself in the beach near Asia, be careful not to annoy the Chinese sea snake, the black-banded sea krait, because this beast has got a killer.
Found in: Asia
Featured in ‘Steve Backshall and Exploding Stars!‘ – March 26th 2022.
Eastern Hognose Snake
It’s a snake that you can find in America, around Florida, Kansas and up to Canada. And it’s an incredible looking beast with a diamond patterned coloured back and a really white head. Now their mouth can open to an incredible size as well. They’ve got these big teeth at the back and they do snap shut and they bite with venom. But it’s not really dangerous to humans.
The thing is, the Eastern Hognose, although it’s going on to our Dangerous Dan list, it’s a bit of a scaredy cat. And when it gets scared, it does something strange and incredible. It lies back, it plays dead in front of the predator and then it farts. And it farts a stench that’s so stinky that any creature nearby pretty much runs away. They hightail it, now it just can’t be near that awful odour.
It makes sense because when an animal has died, it’s body rots away. And this reeks.
So the Eastern Hognose snake makes a smell just like that to confuse the animal, to leg it. A ferocious fart. The Eastern Hognose isn’t really deadly to us humans at all, but anything with the power of a toxic trump, a ferocious fart, a poisonous parp. Anything that stinky has to go on our Dangerous Dan list.
Found in: North America
Featured in ‘The Deadliest Fart in the Animal Kingdom!‘ – March 19th 2022.
This time out, it’s all about an insect with a death fart. Oh, you heard that right. By the way, we’ll come to that in a second. It’s all about the Beaded Lacewing, which is a moth-like insect. It’s got pinkish grey wings, it’s got long antenna. They’re quite small and they balance on leaves. Now the adults are delicate, lovely. They’re very nice. It’s the babies that you need to be watching for. They’re ferocious predators with an incredible way of getting prey. The larvae, they lurk in the nest of termites and they need food. They need food to grow. So they need to stun the termites to eat them, to knock them out. And they do that with toxic farts.
These farts are powerful enough to stun six termites in one blow. It’s got loads of methane in the farts and that does the damage. And when it farts out, this toxic to the termites are knocked out for 3 hours. And the beaded lacewing goes to town. It tucks in and eats the termites that have been felled by ferocious farts.
Found in: Worldwide
Featured in ‘Spiders Falling From the Sky‘ – March 12th 2022.
African Crested Rat
African Crested Rats are about the size of a rabbit, and they’re very cute. They’ve got sweet faces. They purr like a cat. They’re a bit like a big ball of fluff with hair that smoothly sticks out all over themselves. It’s found in Africa, who’d have thought, well done. And it’s the world’s only poisonous rodent.
Now, how they get their poison is really interesting because they borrow it, really. They chew the bark of a poisonous tree. Now they don’t swallow all of it. They keep that venom in their mouth and then they lick it into their fur. You might have seen your cat doing this. When they lick themselves, they give themselves a bath. It’s a type of grooming. This is a deadly, a gross, type of grooming. It’s their way of keeping clean and being ready to defend and attack.
Their poison is so strong, they coat it all over themselves. It’s deadly enough to kill an elephant. That’s a huge elephant. An elephant that’s well, elephant sized. And this creature, this rat, is only the size of a rabbit. But it’s that smart thinking, the deadly licking the toxic fur, that means the African crested rat goes straight onto our Dangerous Dan list.
Found in: Africa
Featured in ‘Why Are We Putting Bats in Recording Studios??’ – March 5th 2022.
Scientists have discover a brand new species of Dinosaur and it’s a type of Abelisaur.
It’s fossils were found in Argentina, but at the time it was alive it would have roamed in Australia…and all around the Southern Hemisphere.
It looks pretty strange this Abelisaur, it’s a huge, striking creature – 30 foot long! It looks a bit like a T-Rex, but if you can believe it…it had even shorter arms!
It’s almost armless…but certainly not harmless. It makes up for it’s tiny arms with a ginormous jaw with thick, sharp, teeth which it used to attack. It’s long neck would have helped it swing down on any prey. This was the only way it could feast…using just it’s teeth!
Found in: South America (Argentina)
Featured in ‘How Much Does the Sky Weigh?’ – February 25th 2022.
The Ichneumon Wasp is a parasite. The long needle-like thing at the back looks like a stinger, but it’s not that that at all…it’s much more terrifying! It’s what female wasps use to lay eggs, except they don’t lay these eggs on the ground, instead they lay them in ANOTHER CREATURE!
When an innocent insect, like a caterpillar, gets caught, the Ichneumon Wasp will lay it’s legs inside it and then the eggs hatch and the baby wasps eat the body of the insect from the inside out.
When it’s a fully-grown adult it gets free and it will have destroyed the other insect it started off life in and will start the cycle all over again!
This may sound horrible, but Ichneumon Wasps are actually very useful. Farmers use Ichneumon Wasps to stop insects damaging the crops that they are growing.
Found in: All Over the World
Featured in ‘Why are Planets Round?’ – February 19th 2022.
The Mandrake is a species of plant from the Nightshade family. They have quite a fat root, their plant has purple and yellow petals, and they make a fleshy berry fruit from the top.
In Greek and Roman times it was thought that the Mandrake would shriek when they pulled it from the ground, it was thought to be in the power of the dark spirits…just like in Harry Potter!
The plant can make you hallucinate – so you see things that aren’t actually there! It does very weird stuff to your brain and it’s also poisonous so it could knock you out and cause serious damage to you.
Rarity: Fairly Common
Found in: The Mediterranean, Himalayan Mountains
Featured in ‘We’ve Found a New Planet That May Have Aliens’ – February 12th 2022.
There are many different species of the Blister Beetle, almost 8,000 of them! And they can cause you a lot of pain…
Like most venomous insects, they’re brightly coloured as a warning to predators who might be near by. This is because they don’t want to sting them as it uses a lot of energy. They’re basically saying: “Please don’t come near me, I’m brightly coloured, you know that if you do I WILL sting you and it will cause us both a lot of fuss.”
They make a chemical called cantharidin which can be used to remove warts. But that’s not why they make it. It’s actually to make birds throw up! If a bird swallows a beetle and takes in this chemical, it makes them throw the beetle up, hopefully in one piece. It causes them a lot of damage as well.
And if a human touches the Blister Beetle, they get…well, blisters!
Found in: All Over the World
Featured in ‘What is a Lightyear?’ – February 5th 2022.
The Sabre-Toothed Anchovy is a deadly version of the anchovies that exist today (yep, those ones you get on top of pizzas or in salads).
Today they’re tiny, but their ancestors (according to fossils found 40 million years ago) of the past were bigger, had sharp dagger-like fangs across their jaw with one single sabre-tooth on the top jaw which could dig right down onto anything they were chomping.
They were fairly big, sleek, and slender creatures slicing through the water. Experts have said they were pretty crazy and kind of all over the place. They have been compared to the T-Rex of the water!
Menacing, unpredictable, and terrifying to look at!
It’s strange that these beasts, over millions of years, have evolved into the teeny tiny fish that salts up a pizza today!
Rarity: Extinct (Evolved into the Anchovy)
Found in: All Over the World
Featured in ‘The Nearest Planet That Could Have ALIENS!’ – January 29th 2022.
This is one of the most dangerous looking spiders on the planet. It’s called the Sac Spider.
They’re not huge, but they are thick! They’ve got an enormous abdomen, the lower part of their body, in between eight hairy legs.
That’s the thing with the Sac Spider, they’re hairy beasts. With eight terrifying eyes in two rows, they get their name because they are known for building little dens by plants – little sacs to hide in.
They are known to bite randomly, they don’t need to be threatened or attacked, they just lurch out and snap.
The Sac Spider bite is said to be extremely painful, it makes you bruise, it blisters with pus and with horrible yellow scabs for a while. Thankfully, it’s not deadly, but people say that the bite hurts so much.
For some reason one type of Sac Spider loves the smell of petrol and gasoline, so these critters are known to build nests near car engines…
Found in: All Over the World
Featured in ‘Creating a Message Aliens Can Understand!’ – January 22nd 2022.
Orpiment is one of the strangest, and even lethal materials in the world. A mineral is something that makes rocks, sands, and soils. This one is beautiful and bizarre.
Orpiment is a dazzling orangey yellow colour, which glistens and sparkles, with a white bottom, it looks a bit like a crown.
It’s found in the rocks made in hot springs, vents that push hot air up at the bottom of the oceans.
It was once used in medicine. Experts back in the day thought that it was good for you, but they were pretty wrong…
It was also once used in alchemy, which is when people try and make gold, but that didn’t work either.
The thing with Orpiment is that it’s HEAVILY toxic…it’s made of arsenic, which is used in poisons. If Orpiment is allowed to be in the fresh air for too long, and you’re holding it, that arsenic will become toxic and poison you!
Rarity: Fairly Uncommon
Found in: Volcanic Fumaroles, Hydrothermal Veins, Hot Springs in Various Countries All Over the World
Featured in ‘How Do We Send a Message to Space?’ – January 15th 2022.
The Swift-Tuttle Comet has been described as experts as ‘The Most Dangerous Object Known to Humanity.’
It’s the largest thing in the solar system that comes close to Earth repeatedly.
The Comet’s nucleus, that’s the rock in the middle, is 16 MILES wide, and it swings past Earth every 133 years.
It’s hard to tell how dangerous comets are, but scientists can try and figure out how close it’ll come.
The last time it came close to Earth was almost 30 years ago, back in 1992! In the year 2126, just over 100 years away, it’ll come 14.2 million miles away from Earth…which is quite close for a comet!
Then in 2261, it’ll be even closer, JUST over 13 million miles away!
Rarity: Only ONE
Found in: Space
Featured in ‘How We Can Send YOUR VOICE TO SPACE’ – January 8th 2022.
The Water Deer are known by a much more sinister name…The Vampire Deer!
They get that name from their two large fangs that grow either side of their mouth. A bit like tusks, they’ve got these two long jutting teeth that make them look terrifying.
Unlike a lot of deer, they have no antlers. Besides that they look exactly the same (besides the fangs).
Thankfully, they’re not dangerous to us humans, instead they use their fangs to get smaller prey.
But for their name alone, they go on the Dangerous Dan list!
Rarity: Fairly Common
Found in: Mainly South Korea
Featured in ‘How Does the Planetary Defence System Work and Why Do We Have It?’ – December 18th 2021.
The Velvet Ant has an incredibly mean nickname, that says exactly what it does…it’s know as…The Cow Killer!
It’s actually a wasp, not an ant, but as some wasps don’t have wings it makes them look like ants.
They look mean, like a warning sign, with thick, velvety orange and black fuzz all over it. They make a squawking noise when they’re under attack, to warn whoever is there that they’ve got an incredibly painful sting.
The sting takes a lot of energy, so they don’t really use it, which is why they warn other creatures off. They’re also incredibly fast.
It’s the sting that does the most damage…it’s supremely painful. Venom shoots into you and it aches for ages!
Rarity: Fairly Common
Found in: United States of America
Featured in ‘How Do Scabs and Snot Help Us? And Why is Fire Orange?’ – December 11th 2021.
You’ll find the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at the very bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, it’s a line of underwater mountains.
It’s over 3,000 metres BENEATH sea level, and it’s very strange…
Cracks in the Earth’s crust make hot spots where magma, molten rock from deep down in the planet, hits water and boils at a huge temperature.
These are called hydrothermal vents. The hottest water comes out of two cracks called Two Boats and Sisters Peak.
The water spewed out by these vents can reach 867 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hotter than the surface of Venus…and Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system!
These are volcanoes, and you might think they’re millions of years old…but they’re only about 20 years old!
Rarity: Only One Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Found in: The bottom of the Atlantic Ocean
Featured in ‘The Amazing Science Behind Spiders Webs!’ – December 4th 2021.
Just off the coast of Brazil in South America, lies an island called Ilha de Queimada Grande…but it goes by another name too, Snake Island!
It’s a rocky, mountainous, tree-filled island where no humans are allowed to enter.
This is because it’s home to the Golden Lancehead Viper, the only place on Earth where this snake lives!
The Golden Lancehead was pushed there after rising sea-levels, and it feasts on two species of bird which live there as well.
On the whole island, slithering up the trees, mountains, and along the ground live around 4,000 of these dangerous vipers.
Because this snake is so rare, endangered, and dangerous – the Brazilian President has banned people from going.
Which is smart – although I’m not sure why anyone would want to go – even though the Golden Lancehead Viper only eats birds, it’s venom melts human skin!
Rarity: Extremely Rare
Found in: Ilha de Queimada Grande (Brazil)
Featured in ‘How does the Assassin Bug calm its prey?’ – November 27th 2021.
The Sheepshead Fish is quite a big fish, it can grow to a metre in length and can weigh up to 10 kilograms.
They’ve got 2 eyes boggling out of their head, they look like so many other fish…apart from one thing…one terrifying thing.
They’ve got teeth.
Teeth just like ours.
The Sheepshead Fish has fully grown adult-sized human teeth. They’re used to crush prey that swim past.
Found in: Atlantic Ocean
Featured in ‘A fish with human teeth and seaweed eating cows!’ – November 13th 2021.
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