We don't think of snails as extremely mobile animals, and it's usually true, though a few have developed clever alternatives to slithering on a trail of spunk all day. One such snail is the common purple snail -- the slimiest, most spineless pirate to ever sail the high seas.
Via Wiki Commons
The snail begins its life as a tiny, swimming larva -- but upon maturity, it makes like a Pixar cartoon and straps its body to a raft of balloons from which it will hang upside-down for the rest of its life, riding the waves wherever they take it.
"My whole world is one giant lazy river."
There is actually a sensible reason for the snail to trade its ability to swim for the ability to really not be able to do anything at all forever. Its primary food source is the Portuguese man-o-war, another creature that just floats around on the same currents. Rather than waste time and energy swimming around in search of its victims, the snail relies on the waves to make it bump into its victim. As neither is able to move, this makes for the most boring nature documentary ever.
Via Wiki Commons
"And here we see the man-o-war, being way more lame than his name would suggest."
Nematodes in the genus Dictyocaulus, also known as lungworms, have a difficult task ahead of them if they want to reproduce. The appropriately-named worms live in the lungs of cows, but in order to spread their offspring, they have to get coughed up by their host, re-swallowed by the same cow, circulate through its digestive system and pop out inside a warm cow turd.
Via Dr. Dietrich Barth, Merial
As you can imagine, Dictyocaulus doesn't get invited to the swankier nematode parties.
From there, the challenge is to get inside another cow, which is difficult because they can't move far and cows don't eat turds. How do they do it? They catch a flight on the poopspore express.
Pilobolus is a harmless dung-loving fungus faced with the same dilemma as the lungworm: It needs to get its spores from a cow's turds to a cow's mouth. To accomplish this, the fungus packs its spores on the ends of fluid-filled sacs rigged to explode in sunlight, hurtling spores into fresh, not-shit-covered grass just as hungry animals are waking up for a morning graze.
Via Cornell Mushroom Blog
We've noticed that the phrase "fluid-filled sacs" almost never describes something good.
Lungworms, tired of relying on their stupid, lumbering hosts, have actually adapted to seek out stalks of fungus, climb up to the spore sac and strap themselves in until dawn, when thousands of the larval parasites will take off riding thousands of exploding fungi like a circus act from Stephen King's nightmares.
Via The Georgia Institute of Technology
Fire ants are one of the world's most invasive and ecologically destructive insects, owing their success to their large numbers, painful venom, persistence and aggression. The United States and Australia both have government programs in operation to exterminate the species from their shores (seriously -- think about all the species Australia allows to live).
"We'll stick with the drop bears, thank you."
It's futile, though, because not even the wrath of God can stop fire ants.
by Jeff Abrams
Most ant colonies are poorly prepared to deal with flooding, and can be completely wiped out by a fierce enough storm. Fire ants, however, have their own little asshole version of Noah's Ark: When the colony begins to fill with water, they gather together two of every fire ant and build a fire ant rescue boat that is also fire ants. Did we mention it's literally unsinkable?
After evacuating the colony, the ants all join hands and lock together in a huge mattress of bugs that floats away on the rising floodwaters, and while the queen and all the eggs stay safe and dry on top, those unfortunate individuals stuck on the underside remain safe due to air bubbles they keep trapped in their hairy little arms. This keeps the colony afloat so effectively that scientists are studying them to improve waterproof materials. That's right, we're trying to wipe these bastards out, but they're the ones with the superior technology.
Combine this with ballooning for enough nightmares to carry you through to 2012.
Find more from Jonathan at bogleech.
For more ways animals are better than us, check out The 9 Most Mind-blowing Disguises in the Animal Kingdom. And find out why eating Hot Pockets ain't so bad, in The 8 Most Terrifying Diets in the Animal Kingdom.
And stop by Linkstorm to check out our pimped out beaver.
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