So let's say you're a spider. And, following the advice of that song in The Little Mermaid, you decide you want to devote yourself to a life under the sea. How the hell are you going to do that? You're a fucking spider.
Get a job, you fucking spider.
Well, you could do what the Diving Bell Spider does and build your own freaking mini-submarine. It spins a balloon-like web in which it can trap oxygen and breathe like a raver huffing nitrous oxide out of a Hefty bag.
When We Invented It:
Although Aristotle described one in the fourth century, the first modern diving bell wasn't created and used until 1535. This may seem pretty early by human standards, but it's nothing compared to the 300 million year head start that spiders have on us.
And while diving bells and their derivative technologies allow us to blissfully explore the depths of the ocean and marvel at its beauty, we must keep in mind the ever-present threat of giant poison spiders preying on our sealabs and nuclear subs.
"Does that sound like a spider with a crowbar to you?"
Despite being famous for shitting all over everything and routinely getting hit by cars, pigeons--and specifically, homing pigeons--possess a navigation system that still makes a TomTom look like a big pile of shit.
You can take a homing pigeon, stick it in the trunk of your car, and drive it hundreds of miles away to a spot it has never been before. Release it, and it'll find its way back to its nest. There are recorded instances of these birds finding their way home from 1,100 miles away.
Many theories attempt to account for this mutant power, including suggestions that the pigeons rely on the magnetic fields of the Earth somehow.
"I'm carrying a map, you dumb asses."
During World War II America even sank money into a project that would use homing pigeons to steer missiles, though it was soon realized that putting massive destructive power into the beak of an animal that will happily eat a Filet-O-Fish out of a soggy public ashtray was probably unwise.
When We Invented It:
People have been using maps for quite a while now, but the only things that come close to replicating what the homing pigeon can do are modern Global Positioning System devices, which didn't go online until 1995. Not only does the pigeon's system fit neatly inside its tiny pigeon brain, but they've never needed to consult an iPhone to find the nearest restaurant awning to shit on.
Oh, did you think it was only the awesome inventions the animals came up with first?
Malaysian ants have glands full of poison, which isn't all that unusual. What is unusual is the way they will, under threat, inflate those glands and then make them fucking explode.
They detonate with such force that they completely obliterate their own head, spraying poison in all directions. So when predators intrude, these crazy bastards wait until they're within the blast radius and let loose.
"This plan is bulletproof."
Commonly referred to as the "Now Nobody Gets to Eat Me" defense, this culmination of evolutionary events seems at best misguided, but is effective nonetheless. Because honestly, you can't boil a hot dog if it fucking explodes the second you open the refrigerator, and if that explosion shot poison all over the kitchen you would stop buying hot dogs altogether.
When We Invented It:
One of the first explosives was black powder, originating in China around the ninth century. As the centuries progressed, that powder evolved into grenades, land mines, warheads, aerial bombs and artillery shells.
While these devices allow for the inclusion of explosions into any formal or informal affair, we as human beings have yet to master the art of detonating our own heads on cue, which, as the Malaysian ants have demonstrated, is the pinnacle of home defense.
Josh Pearce is a Dutch-Frisian exotic dancer and courtesan who was executed by firing squad for espionage during World War I. He writes angry stuff at Book of Tangents.
To see how animals have further made us look like raging jackasses, check out 5 Diabolical Animals That Out-Witted Humans. But find out why we probably deserved it, in 7 Insane Military Attempts To Weaponize Animals.
And stop by Cracked.com's Top Picks to see how animals innovated sex before we did, also.