We've already made it extensively clear that the world will not end in fire or ice, but covered in ants.
But besides their colonies -- which oh by the way are ridiculously extensive underground labyrinths...
... what's so special about these insects?
Well, humans, with our big, fancy brains, have been around for 250,000 years or so but it took us until very recently (15,000 or so years ago) to "invent" the idea of growing our own food rather than just finding berries and nuts out in the wild. And while people like to say that art, or fire, or "love" is man's greatest invention, the Statue of David can suck it, because agriculture is the most important thing man has done. Farming allowed man to stay in one place, inadvertently giving rise to towns, cities, states -- shaping civilization as we know it.
Somewhere along the line, we replaced crude huts with 3D pornography and Bugles.
But if we'd been watching ants, we'd have figured it out a lot sooner. Long before we were even chasing wooly mammoths with spears or riding around in our crude, foot-powered cars, ants had mastered the art of sustainable agriculture.
And the art of buttsex.
Leaf cutter ants will take cut up bits of plant into their ant-hills. Then, instead of just eating them, they'll lay the bits down and shit on them so that a certain fungus will grow. They then cultivate the fungus, feeding it new plant material when necessary. They even have developed techniques to protect their fungus from other, non-edible molds -- so not only are they farming, they've made themselves a safe and effective pesticide.
And they did all of this 50 million years before we came along..
In another 50 million years, they could have Pong.
It's widely known among seagulls that if you wind up getting eaten by a whale, you sucked as a seagull. You can fly. A whale lives in the water and weighs several tons.
This is as high as they can fly.
But staff at MarineLand (a Canadian SeaWorld) saw one of their orca whales come up with an ingenious bird-catching method: He'd take some of the fish staff were feeding him, chew them up and spit them out on the surface of the water. Then a bird would dive down for the easy meal, and the whale would leap up and eat the bird while the victim's bird peers sighed and rolled their eyes. The whale was baiting them.
That's not the weird thing. Soon, the orca's younger half-brother started spitting fish and ambushing birds using the same technique. Later, two adult females started the activity. They were teaching the technique to one another.
Along with algebra and long division.
This is not the sort of thing animals should be able to do. That's why bears don't know how to ride unicycles unless we humans show them how. It's kind of creepy when they do it on their own.
Of course, where you find creepy behavior, you can be sure crows will be jumping on board.
Up yours, crows.
Crows, if you didn't know, have the ability to make and share tools better than most primates. But in a recent experiment, two crows were each given a vial of food and a length of wire. We'll call them Crow A and Crow B, since Crow Shadeslayer and Crow Knightsword might be too complicated. For Crow A, the wire was bent so that it could easily be used to access the food. For the other (Crow B), the wire was straight and unhelpful.
Crow A, recognizing the tool for what it was, easily used it to get at its meal and departed. Crow B, doing something that birds should not fucking be able to do, observed Crow A, then calmly bent its own wire into an identical hook. Keep in mind, that crow had never encountered metal wire before, and it had no idea what the properties of the stuff were. It figured it out. That's new crow technology happening right before our eyes.
Oh, and as a side note, researchers would routinely come into the habitat and find the fire alarms had been disassembled. BY THE GODDAMNED CROWS.
It's a small step from there to here.
Yeah that's the point where it crosses into "unsettling" for us.
For more animal ingenuity, check out 6 Modern Technologies Animals Invented Millions of Years Ago and The 9 Most Mind-blowing Disguises in the Animal Kingdom.
And stop by Linkstorm to see which animal is fixing to overthrow humanity.
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