One of our favorite animals we ever featured here was that lizard that sprays blood from its own eyes when threatened. As awesome as it is, though, it's actually not the grossest defense mechanism in nature.
8The Turkey Vulture's Twice-Rotten Peace Offering
Vomiting on a predator is a time-honored tradition in the Animal Kingdom, but the turkey vulture has honed this simple skill into a veritable art form. Already, there are few animals willing to kill and eat a turkey vulture -- presumably because these birds eat rotting carrion, shellfish that washed up on shore and died days earlier, and fecal matter from other animals. Oh, and they clean themselves with their own piss. But that's not the grossest part.
On the rare instances when the turkey vulture does run into something that would like to eat it (something that is literally starving to death, we'd imagine), it's got a great plan for how to get away.
Why doesn't it just fly away? Well, if the vulture has just eaten, it has gorged itself on so much spoiled meat that it's too heavy to take off. So, the turkey vulture, too fat to fly, vomits everything in its stomach up in front of the predator as a peace offering. This isn't just your run-of-the-mill disgusting vomit, either. This is vomit that is made from all the horrible odds and ends other animals have left behind; this is rotting maggot-infested shit-covered vomit.
"Like yours is any nicer."
And once the turkey vulture has emptied out the contents of its vile gut, it waddles its fat ass away while the predator snarfs down the big steaming pile of puke. Good job, turkey vulture; crisis averted. This is why you have no friends.
Via Gildart Photo
And yet, there is one bird that does puke better ...
7Fulmars Spray Puke Glue
Baby birds. There's little in the world that are as cute and defenseless.
Baby birds are at the mercy of predators. They can't fly and can all too easily become lunch if a predator can climb up to the nest. That's why the fulmar -- a species of sea bird that nests on cliffs -- has developed an innovative defense mechanism that keeps chicks safe and intruders from ever returning.
The term fulmar means "foul gull," and it is aptly named. When confronted with anything -- from predatory eagles to gulls passing by to unwary rock climbers -- the fulmar chick will projectile vomit an oily secretion all over the face of the approaching animal.
That orange filth that shoots out of the birds' mouths creates a rotten fish smell that won't come off, no matter how long you spend scrubbing it off your horny layer in the shower.
It's not just the smell that makes a fulmar chick's defense mechanism so horrible, either. When the gut oil of this bird gets on the feathers of other sea birds, it's so sticky that they can't get it off. It glues their feathers together, making it impossible for the poor birds to fly. When these other birds, horrified at the prospect of spending another minute on Fulmar Island, take to the water to escape, the gut oil of the fulmar chick causes the birds to lose their buoyancy and they drown.
Caw! Caw! We're really much more terrible than we look! Caw!
That's right: The fulmar chick projectile vomits murder-oil onto the feathers of other birds. It does it to its own parents too, and to camera-holding Scotsmen who wander too close.
Fortunately for the survival of the fulmar, and yet, unfortunately for the cleanliness of cold-island-rock-climbers everywhere, the fulmar's parents are immune to the oils in the chick's vomit. In fact, they greet their disgusting babies by leaning down low and vomiting fresh fish into their little hungry tummies. And so the cycle of horror continues.