Most people consider dragonflies to be nothing more than happy indicators of summer. A dragonfly flitting by is visual shorthand for "beautiful summer day," but perhaps it should be shorthand for "Watch out: xenomorphic monsters crossing."
Adult dragonflies are the Harrier jets of the insect world -- they can fly at speeds of over 30 mph, hover, and even fly backward. Those massive eyes allow them to spot prey from over 100 yards away, and they're voracious eaters. But that's nothing compared to the dragonfly larva, which feeds by firing out its lower jaw like the monster from Aliens. Covered with spikes and spines too freaky to call "teeth," a dragonfly larva can extend its labium so quickly that it acts like a projectile weapon, stunning if not outright killing prospective prey.
It's such an effective hunting technique that dragonfly larvae can even catch minnows, some as large as themselves. But this is definitely a case of words and even still images utterly failing at their given task. You truly have to see that weird little insect fire its bladed chin gun at a passing fish in real time to understand that, if there's a God watching over this world, he's a huge horror nerd.
"Y'know what the world could use? More nightmares."
A few of the many fanged nightmares that lurk in the briny deep use bioluminescence to lure prey close, like that creepy fang-fish from Finding Nemo. Others use bioluminescence to signal mates, or even to ward off rivals. But nothing uses it like the Dana octopus squid: It's a predatory flasher.
"Call it what you want. I know I look good."
No, these squids have not evolved to run up to bus stops with their balls hanging out of their chinos -- Japanese researchers filmed these gigantic invertebrates using their bioluminescence like a flashbang grenade. The man-sized squids will dash up to prey, splay their tentacles, and then set off a dizzying disco strobe light routine.
Royal Society via National Geographic
If you're looking to have some fun in the ocean, this is the guy to ask.
This sudden photonic onslaught, unleashed in the perpetual gloom and shadows of the tenebrous sea, stuns fish long enough for the tentacles to close, and boom: You've got yourself a squid effectively using urban warfare tactics. Sleep tight!
Humpbacks are a favorite of ocean lovers everywhere. Compared to the vicious-looking sperm whales (is it just us, or was someone a confusing kind of horny on "Whale-Naming Day"?), big ol' clumsy humpbacks are like your jolly, dumb cousin, all dancing stupidly for your amusement at family barbecues. But much like that time you caught Cousin Jethro hacking into the Pentagon, you are seriously underestimating these blubbery beasts. See, humpback whales have been known to use one of the most convoluted and ingenious hunting methods on the planet: the bubble net.
Otherwise known as the ringworm of the sea.
While they're largely solitary, humpback whales do hunt in groups. When they find a school of tasty fish, the group breaks formation and encircles the prey in a deadly ring of humps. As one, the whales suddenly breathe out, and the ensuing bubbles are so thick and numerous that they form a net of force that the fish cannot swim through. Thus trapped in the bubble ring, the fish are then driven to the surface by a group of "shepherd" whales that swim up from below. Still other whales will scream at the scrambling fish. Yeah, all that beautiful, mournful singing? Turns out it's not all about communication or mating. Some of that caterwauling is straight up banshee-style sonic warfare: The noise disorients and even stuns fish, driving them further into the trap. Finally, when all the fish have been corralled, herded, and shrieked into a stupor, the entire group of humpbacks will bull rush the school from below, swallowing thousands of fish in a single gulp.
Brill, via Science Daily
Leave some for the rest of us, mooches.
Researchers don't think this is recently learned behavior either, which means that humpback whales were probably fishing with nets long before human beings ever thought of it.
So yeah, maybe it's time to rethink that whole "whaling" thing. Not for any ethical reason -- it just might not be a great idea to piss off the 40-ton, sonic-warfare-wielding master tacticians of the ocean, y'know?
"We can body-check tanks. Something to keep in mind."
Monte Richard writes all kinds of stuffs for all kinds of people, but mostly he rambles aimlessly here.
For more reasons why none of us stand a chance, check out The 6 Deadliest Creatures (That Can Fit In Your Shoe) and 5 Lovable Animals You Didn't Know Are Secretly Terrifying.