We have made it our mission to celebrate the underrated badasses of the animal kingdom because in general, Hollywood has taught us to be afraid of the wrong creatures.
For instance, for every animal you'd be terrified to run across in the wild, the odds are there is at least one other beast who sees it as a tasty snack. And often it's what you'd least expect. Like ...
So you are a tarantula, the hairy giant of the arachnid world and the absolute worst nightmare of, oh, about 99 percent of humanity. You hunt in the trees and prowl the ground in a manner that leaves little doubt of your absolute, all-consuming terribleness.
Your favorite hangouts include cradles, wood sheds and the bottom of sleeping bags.
As you roam the landscape looking for a late night snack, you spot a potential prey: a silly-looking insect buzzing clumsily around. Raising yourself in the attack position, you confidently prepare for a kill ...
... only to wake up hours later, unable to move, and with a nasty writhing feeling inside you.
A wasp isn't anyone's favorite insect to find flying around in their house, but nobody is going to call 911 if they see one. And when it comes down to wasp vs. tarantula, you'd expect to see the former in the nest of the latter, getting slowly eaten.
But there is a spider wasp called the tarantula hawk that is the boogeyman that small spider children are scared of. To us humans, it looks surreal rather than scary -- like something you'd find in Guillermo del Toro's personal petting zoo.
Seriously, that's Pan's Labyrinth stuff right there.
Of course, there is a reason this kind of bug is called a spider wasp -- its sole mission in life is to transform the world into a never-ending horror movie for its arachnid prey. In this case, the movie is Aliens. The tarantula gets to play the victim; the wasp is the face-hugger. The tarantula hawk will capture, sting and paralyze the tarantula. Then, much as the Alien would, it plants an egg inside the spider's ... ahem, abdomen. Like this:
And, to finish the circle of movie-referencing terror, after growing big and strong on a steady diet of the freaked-out spider's internal organs, the baby tarantula hawk outgrows its home. Yes, this happens exactly as you would expect.
You're having a regular field day with your school of piranhas, munching on the legs of hapless river-crossing explorers, reducing whole cows to skeletons and generally enjoying your reputation as the most badass flesh-eating freshwater fish in existence.
"Fear my mighty underbite!"
Your day keeps getting better, as a new meal swims into sight. Frankly, the thing looks ridiculous -- you vaguely recognize it as one of those "dolphin" things the bikini girls you had for supper had tattooed on their ankles. This one, however, is completely pink. Ha, that thing swam out of a cartoon!
Then it opens its mouth. Wait ... shit ... no! It's not supposed to go this way. Mommy!
"Pink is the new black."
The Amazon river dolphin, known throughout local fight clubs by the punchier name of "boto," is a freshwater dolphin that any My Little Pony fan would be proud to be reincarnated as. It possesses a brain 40 percent larger than a human's and is rumored to be quite the devil with local ladies. Also, it's pink. Really, really, really pink.
"I look sort of like a dick, if you squint."
But while on the surface this pink Cadillac of Amazonia appears as harmless as it is adorable, it is a skilled hunter and possesses a particular taste for piranha flesh.
The boto's uniquely flexible body and neck enables it to maneuver through the intricate labyrinth of branches and tree trunks beneath the Amazon. This is bad news for the piranhas, to the point where it has been suggested that they swim in schools not for shock value, as was previously thought, but out of fear of being eaten themselves.
But, as your piranha just found out, the huddling-together tactic proves futile against the Pink Assassins. They will eat the shit out of piranhas any which way they want. In an ultimate dick move, they even swim into large lakes when water levels drop to take advantage of their cornered prey in a feeding frenzy of sweet, fear-tinged piranha flesh.
As a fearsome Asian giant hornet, you and your swarm of homeboys spend your days terrorizing Japan, bringing down animals hundreds of times your size and starring in YouTube videos where you happily massacre scores of really, really helpful insects. There is pretty much nothing in the world that can withstand the neurotoxins of your unnecessarily huge stinger. You are a ruthless, mindless part of the most dangerous hive in the world, incapable of fearing anything, as one would expect from a bug known by the nickname of "yak-killer hornet."
The background is gone because the hornet fucking ate it.
You are, all in all, more untouchable than Eliot Ness and MC Hammer combined. You were once declared one of the five most horrifying bugs in the world.
Which makes it all the more shocking when a random bird comes along and starts munching on you and your friends like candy.
Via Wikimedia Commons
"I'm building a necklace of stingers."
Pernis ptilorhynchus, aka the crested honey buzzard, is, well, a big bird. Common sense says that seems like pretty much the worst thing to be in a fight against a swarm of huge, overtly toxic hell-insects. The honey buzzard, however, disproves our puny logic by being the only natural predator to Asian giant hornets -- and therefore pretty much the only thing keeping the entire ecosystem of Asia from collapsing into a dark, twisted realm ruled by the Hornet King.
It manages to hunt the little monsters by having certain natural advantages that come off like they were designed by Lucius Fox himself. The buzzard's coat consists entirely of unique feathers that are capable of protecting it against wasp stings like the ornithological equivalent of the Batsuit.
Robin not included because he devoured his soul.
While YouTube does sport its fair share of the giant hornets doing their thing, there's also footage of a crested honey buzzard setting a trap, ambushing a whole hornet's nest using detective mode and then eating their young while the hornets watch helplessly. Oh, and the best part ...
Yes, much like Batman, this particular honey buzzard not only insulted these hornets to their faces by bringing the fight to their turf, but also as a parting salvo she actually destroyed their whole base of operations. Enjoy this photo of one absolutely not giving a shit:
Via Jiri Bohdal
"Why, I've stumbled across an angry swarm of treats! Yay!"