Animals aren't extremely ambitious. Sometimes, however, all they need is a little helpful prodding in the right direction to start conquering everything around them like warlords.
As we first pointed out a couple of weeks ago, human stupidity is always there to give them a helping hand. And where those animals threaten us with their downright creepy intelligence, it's sheer numbers and destructive power that makes us fear the ...
In the late 19th century, a group called the American Acclimatization Society released about a hundred starlings in New York City's Central Park as part of a project to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays into America. Even knowing nothing about starlings, you may recognize this as an idea that is both baffling and terrible.
"I have no idea why I'm doing this."
But if you do know something about starlings, you know they're considered a nuisance because of their habit of roosting in flocks of several million, and then tearing through crops like locusts. The starling is one of the most deeply resented birds in the avian community.
Next to Woody Woodpecker.
"MY GOD ... WHAT HAVE WE DONE?"
The released birds went on to reproduce like mad, increasing their numbers to somewhere around 200 million. By all accounts, starlings are natural terrors. They will force other birds out of their nests and eat their eggs. They swarm in those massive flocks, just eating absolutely everything they can fit in their beaks, stealing food from other species and wreaking havoc on agriculture.
And God help you if you have food left out in the open -- one feedlot in the U.S. had over 200,000 starlings lining almost every spare surface at one time, leading us to wonder why the National Guard wasn't contacted.
This is nothing a flame thrower can't fix.
In 1960, a Lockheed Electra crashed into Boston Harbor seconds after takeoff when 20,000 starlings flew into its engine, killing 62 people on board and proving that the starling's lust for seed is matched only by its thirst for blood.
"Next, we'll introduce all of Christopher Marlowe's venereal diseases to America."
7Anoplolepis Gracilipes, aka the Yellow Crazy Ant
Think about your bedroom. It's about, what, 10 feet across? The yellow crazy ant is taking over that much land, each day, every day.
The crazy ant lives up to its name because of its tendency to shake and twitch like a mental patient, and also for its strange habit of collecting tin cans in a shopping cart and yelling at random people on the street . One day some of the ants managed to stow away on some trucks and wound up on Christmas Island. They multiplied, and multiplied, and are currently spreading at a rate of three meters per day.
We're like Godzillas to them. If Godzilla was completely powerless and incredibly vulnerable to our most basic weapons.
Strangely, Christmas Island was already famous for being home to millions of aptly named Christmas Island red crabs, who once a year migrate across the island in groups of several million.
So that means the island is now known specifically for being full of tiny creatures with lots of legs that you want to kill with a hammer.
"MY GOD ... WHAT HAVE WE DONE?"
Those first ants that crawled off the trucks went on to form several super colonies on the island, creating the greatest concentration of ants ever recorded anywhere on Earth. Over 30 percent of Christmas Island now belongs to the ants.
Viva la revolution!
And when we say "belongs to the ants" we mean it in the most absolute terms. They're so overwhelming and ravenous that no other living creatures are able to survive in areas that have been infected by the ants, literally leaving them devoid of any other life.
As you can imagine, the ants are utterly devastating to the environment, eating the crabs and becoming bigger and stronger in the process.
That's the difference between the mass of migrating crabs the island is used to and this infestation of ants; the crabs actually don't harm anyone and take over the island for only a few weeks of the year. The ants are slowly and methodically taking over the entire land mass and will never leave, ever.
The crabs also used to spread seeds with their burrowing, but the ants have put a stop to that, dramatically affecting the way the forests are growing and will continue to grow. The ants might as well carry flamethrowers and drive bulldozers.
Luckily, they can't reach the pedals.
Not that crabs can't do their share of damage ...