5Inquiring Kakapos Want to Know: What the Hell is a "Predator"?
Over millions of years, most animals have adopted some kind of defensive strategy. An enterprising species might develop camouflage, sharp teeth or spines (if it's smart, it'll just go straight for the pistol-hands). But what if there were no natural enemies whatsoever? An animal could put absolutely all of its energy into eating and reproduction! On the plus side, that's a surefire recipe for a species to thrive. On the down side, those criteria would probably result in a fat, helpless, delicious-tasting nymphomaniac. Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the kakapo: the BBW of the animal kingdom.
It's the world's only flightless parrot (a less threatening pair of words has never been uttered) and weighs in at a portly 8 pounds (tubby, for a bird). The kakapo spends most of its time feeding, procreating and metaphorically basting itself in butter. This controversial decision to eschew traditional survival methods in favor of hitting up the buffet one more time made perfect sense for its native environment, New Zealand -- a country that was in the bathroom when God was handing out mammals.
"And we shall call it ... Possomtopia."
For centuries, hundreds of thousands of kakapos waddled around New Zealand having unhindered sex 'n' food parties, but the good times hit a damper with the arrival of Polynesian settlers around the 14th century and ground to a halt altogether when the Europeans swung by in the 1800s. These newcomers brought with them livestock, dogs, cats, ferrets, rats and, yes, possums. The kakapos not only were unable to fly away from these new predators, but couldn't even run away. A kakapo's natural reaction to danger is to stand completely still -- not play dead, not emit a foul odor or even make a sound. They just stop moving and hope whatever's trying to kill them is too filled with pity to follow through on it. In the vicious game of cops and robbers that nature plays during every minute of every day, the kakapos are playing freeze tag.
Champion 2005 -- present
Not surprisingly, kakapos were immediately slaughtered in ludicrous numbers. The Maoris were already making coats of their feathers and stuffing their pillows with them, and then the Europeans and their animals started devouring them like the stationary poultry-fruit that they were. Today, only about 100 kakapos remain, making it one of the world's rarest birds (and probably sometime soon, the only species to go extinct from sheer panic).
"In exchange for your mercy, I will allow you to eat me."
4Sea Squirts: Head of Their Class
The only thing evolution cares about is brutal efficiency. So if something isn't actively helping an animal to survive or pass on its genes, it gets tossed like a bad salad. That's why cave fish lost their eyes, snakes ditched their legs and we evolved out of our bitchin' weaponized penises.
Weaponized penises. That's what these things look like.
But there are worse things to lose: Just ask a baby sea squirt. One minute it's swimming around in the plankton all "Herbie derbie doo, I'm a squirt" (OK, you tell us what sound a sea squirt makes, smart guy), and the next it's cementing itself headfirst to a rock. Since sitting in one spot and waiting for food to drift into your stomach isn't the most mentally stimulating of occupations, the brain just isn't useful any more -- or rather, it is useful, but only for one thing: Those tasty, nutritious brain cells.
But first, a bitchin' light show.
Yep, part of the sea squirt's awkward teenage years involves devouring its own brain from the inside out. Keep that in mind the next time you open your mouth to bitch about acne scars or that time Jennifer made fun of your squeaky voice in front of like, practically everybody; at least she didn't tear out your frontal lobe and make you a sandwich out of it.
Although she did leave you with plenty of exotic STDs.