The Deadliest Animal in the World is an infographic posted by Bill Gates on his blog as part of Mosquito Week.
What would you say is the most dangerous animal on Earth? Sharks? Snakes? Humans?
Of course the answer depends on how you define dangerous. Personally I’ve had a thing about sharks since the first time I saw Jaws. But if you’re judging by how many people are killed by an animal every year, then the answer isn’t any of the above. It’s mosquitoes.
When it comes to killing humans, no other animal even comes close. Take a look:
Considering their impact, you might expect mosquitoes to get more attention than they do. Sharks kill fewer than a dozen people every year and in the U.S. they get a week dedicated to them on TV every year. Mosquitoes kill 50,000 times as many people, but if there’s a TV channel that features Mosquito Week, I haven’t heard about it.
This infographic does a number of things right from a design perspective, but the major point is that as humans we see the two-dimensional area of objects as representing the values. This design uses both the width and height of the rectangles to visualize the scale of deaths caused by the various animals.
Sometimes it might be too subtle. For example, the width is the same for the rectangles for tapeworms and crocodiles, but the height of the tapeworm box has twice the height to represent the value correctly.
The other thing it does well is to tell one story really well. There’s isn’t any extraneous information like geographic locations or animal populations. The infographic focuses on communicating one set of data.
Because the infographic will be shared online without the rest of the article, there are three piece of information that are missing from this design:
- The Gates Notes logo, or some type of identification of who published the infographic
- A copyright or Creative Commons license state to clearly identify the rights for people sharing the infographic
- The URL of the article where readers can find the original, full-size infographic and the associated text.
Thanks to Peter for recommending the link!