Gender is a constant source of tension among fire ants. The women do all the work around the colony, and the males are pretty much useless -- ant males don't hunt, they don't take care of the young, they don't dig and they don't fight. All they do is eat, mate and poop. But of course they are necessary for survival, because of the whole mating thing.
"Doing a good job there, ladies. Maybe later I'll let you bone me."
But having too many dudes around is a waste of resources. And that's why the worker drone ladies will pretty much just kill a dude on sight. And we don't mean on occasion, either -- the female workers embark on a systematic killing of all the males during the larval stage.
Essentially, they're tiny little Amazon warriors.
As you can imagine, this presents a problem for the queen. She needs males to propagate the species. Without the lazy, good-for-nothing sperm donors, the species would die out. How do the two sides work out a solution? In short, the queen overwhelms the colony with male eggs while the female workers slaughter as many as they can, in hopes they will eventually get tired before murdering them all. As a result, a few boys do make it through the culling, but only because mass fratricide is apparently quite draining.
"Young lady, you stop murdering your brothers right this instant!"
So where do you find a species vicious enough to top that? Well, let's look at how the sharks do it ...
Is anyone surprised that sharks are heartless eating machines that possess absolutely no maternal skills whatsoever? Sure, they probably don't deserve the stigma as crazed serial killers who will stop at nothing to devour every person who sets foot in the ocean, but you still wouldn't want to go down and kiss one on the nose.
So before we get into the weird details, you probably assume that sharks will eat just about anything, including their own young. After all, sharks eat. It's what they do. They're eating machines. Nature lets them know this at the fetus stage by basically making them eat their own unborn siblings to survive.
You see, some sharks have live births with placentas, kind of like mammals. But others don't -- in other words, they have live babies, but don't have an organ to feed the developing fetuses. So guess where they get their nourishment.
That's right: Ovoviviparous sharks eat each other in the womb.
Particularly nurse sharks, which just proves that science loves irony.
So these sharklets are attacking and killing each other before they're even born, but not just because they're vicious, soulless carnivores. The babies have to eat each other or they'll starve -- Mother Nature literally gave them no other choice. From their first wriggling moments of life, they find themselves in a tiny, pitch-dark enclosed place that they don't realize is about to become The Hunger Games.
There may be as many as 20 eggs starting out in two uteri, and each will hatch and live peacefully inside the mother. Maybe they all become friends. But very quickly they will develop jaws, and teeth, and they will grow hungry. They will look for food, find none, and finally realize in their tiny fetal shark brains that the only thing standing between them and starvation is their own brothers and sisters.
"I am not in the mood for your human bullshit. It's like Dawn of the Dead back here."
We can't know how painful for the mother this internal, frenzied death match is or isn't. But you'd have to think that having 20 sets of panicked, snapping shark jaws inside your belly would be a hell of a lot more than a tickle. It seems like they'd constantly be missing and biting off a big chunk of uterus instead.
Of the 20 shark babies that hatch, one from each uterus will survive to be born into the world. And each one will be one jaded son of a bitch.
"Just get inside. Everything is pointless."
For reasons you shouldn't appreciate your mother, check out 7 Things 'Good Parents' Do (That Screw Up Kids For Life) and Your Mom Lied: 5 Common Body Myths Debunked.