The shoebill is basically like the missing link between a stork and a pterodactyl. They were only discovered as recently as 160 years ago, possibly after they were thawed out of the large chunk of ice in which they slept since prehistoric times. They are called shoebills because their bills are supposed to resemble shoes, but whoever came up with that name apparently thinks footwear should include a hook for killing things.
Before you ask, yes. It tastes exactly like chicken.
They stand at around 4 feet tall with a 9-inch bill and are generally found in the muddy swamplands of Eastern Africa, one of the most hardcore wilderness regions of the world. Young crocodiles and small antelopes commonly succumb to the attacks of this feathered death machine, though their preferred prey include the African lungfish (one of the most terrifyingly hard to kill creatures ever), snakes, lizards and turtles.
The shoebill kills like a professional, fast and silently -- it holds perfectly still, watching its prey until the time is just right; then, in one decisive movement it lunges down head first, using its powerful jaws and nose-hook to puncture and crush its prey in an instant.
Notice how the front of his head is basically a sword.
Their Stupid Defect:
For a bird that feeds by swooping down on its prey and snatching it up, the shoebill is not very good at, you know, flying. Their wings are actually wide and powerful; the problem is that these bastards are so big that they require a lot of open space to take off, and open space is not something they have a lot of where they live.
We don't know what's going on here, but we're sure it's pornographic for somebody.
What they do have a lot of is tall grass and canopies, the exact type of thing that completely trips them up if they attempt to fly -- that 7-foot wingspan doesn't look so intimidating when it causes the giant bird to fumble around uncomfortably. This experience is so embarrassing, it seems, that this entire species has simply given up: Shoebills are known for being reluctant to fly, even preferring to build their nests on ground level.
Yep. They're huge birds for whom getting up into a tree is too much trouble.
"Everyone's laughing, aren't they? I'm going to eat a whole crate of chocolate chip cookies."
Slavemaker ants are literally ants that make slaves out of other ants. It's that simple, and that hardcore. They fight their way into another colony, slaughter the adults and steal their young so they can force them to work for them for the rest of their lives. Here's some seriously epic footage of a slavemaker raid (they're the red ones), presented without audio so that you can play some Lord of the Rings trailer music on top.
Slavemaker scouts intentionally target the most well defended mound they can find (since they'll probably have more eggs), and then the workers barge in like an elite strike team -- sometimes it's only a handful of raiders against an entire colony. They are basically the goddamn Spartans of the insect kingdom.
"THIS. IS ... actually your ant hill. But we're taking it."
Even the way they mate is badass: The queen fakes her own death, waits for enemy ant soldiers to drag her to their own queen for feeding, then disembowels the enemy queen and rolls in her viscera, catching her smell so that the workers will see her as their queen and tend to her eggs.
Their Stupid Defect:
They're good for raiding and stealing your children, but not so good for ... anything else. As in, they literally can't feed themselves on their own. Even if food is put right in front of them, they won't know what to do with it and will starve to death. Slavemaker ants depend on their slaves for everything, even defending the colony.
"One of you needs to make a snack run. I left my license in the other hive."
Basically, they raid out of desperation, not because of how tough they are. These guys are so useless that they can't even take care of their own queen or forage for food unless they get their slaves to do it. It's not that they're lazy, they're simply incompetent at anything other than war. And when we say anything, we mean anything -- when the colony relocates the slaves must carry their confused, possibly drooling masters to their new home.
James K. Lindsey
"These wings are just for show. Flying is for peasants."
Chances are you're already scared of scorpions, and if you're not, it's probably because you don't know enough about them. Scorpions are like spiders in little sets of armor -- they are even equipped with a special paralyzing weapon attached to their tails. Despite qualifying as an insect, we think they have more in common with a Japanese mecha. Of the 1,500 species known to man, only 25 are deadly to humans, which is 25 too many if you ask us. The rest may not kill you, but not for lack of trying (and it still hurts like hell).
We don't care how brave you are. One of these at eye level ends in a urine-soaked sleeping bag.
Scorpions are opportunistic feeders who will tear apart and eat just about anything they can plunge their venomous barbs into. Also, if you're into camping, we feel the need to tell you that most of them come out at night, in order to avoid their numerous predators.
Their Stupid Defect:
Of course, if you do come across a scorpion at night, there's a big chance you'll be able to spot it right away, because this is what they look like:
Like the ceiling of a 10-year-old boy.
Even though scorpions are nocturnal, they produce a special fluorescent chemical that causes them to light up if the stars or the moon are out. Imagine trying to sneak up on your dinner while looking like a damned neon sign. The glow in the dark action not only makes them a dead giveaway to their prey, but also to their predators and, perhaps most annoyingly, to assholes who come out to the desert so they can take artsy blacklight of them.
Life's Little Mysteries
Which just makes us think of CSI and that episode when someone came all over a scorpion.
Scientists think that this may actually be a way to avoid predators, since it lets them know when the night is too bright to go hunting ... by making them look even brighter. In that case, why not just give them better sight and let them tell if it's too bright by looking?
Here's another explanation: Mother Nature is an asshole.
An asshole with style.
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