Nature is brutal and uncaring, but at least there's generally an accepted order to it. Some things are just meant to be food, while other bigger and toothier things are meant to be predators. But some creatures seem to be bucking the system, brazenly rising above their station and doling out murder in unforeseen ways to remind us all of how precarious our own perch on the evolutionary ladder may be. For example ...
We've known about massive, bird-eating horror-spiders for some time now, but actually catching a bird is more of a freak occurrence than a result of any sort of strategy on the part of the spider. But you know what isn't rare at all? Spiders catching and eating bats. That's happening all the damn time.
Carmen Fabro/Live Science
Another tragic case of creepy-animal-on-creepy-animal violence.
New studies have revealed that spiders are indeed eating bats, and that they're doing it deliberately and maliciously. Not just one type of spider, mind you, but lots of different species are doing this on a regular basis, and it's happening everywhere. Researchers found out that the only place that spiders aren't sucking the life out of bats is Antarctica, and that's probably only because penguins are higher in fat content.
Sam Barnard/Live Science
This picture was taken in Colorado. Colorado. Nowhere is safe.
Most of the time, the bats are ensnared in strategically placed webs, but not always. Some spiders dispense with all that extra effort and may simply crawl into caves and throttle bats while they sleep, as some huntsman spiders and tarantulas have been observed devouring them on forest floors.
Time to get rid of those bats in your attic the natural way.
Sure, that's pretty unlucky for bats, but they're still the world's most successful bug hunters, and there's not a lot of shame in being bested by spiders. But actually ...
In the Amazon, a place where everything would very much like to see you dead, centipedes can get big. Really big. The largest of their terrible kind is Scolopendra gigantea, the Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede. They can grow up to a foot in length, with reports of some Venezuelan versions reaching 18 inches.
John Hill/Expert Witness
Suddenly the destruction of the rain forest doesn't seem like such a bad thing.
Not only are these slithering obscenities big, but apparently they're also crafty. Giant centipedes have been observed going big-game hunting in caves with healthy but unwitting bat populations, just like their spider pals. Devising a scenario that the bats surely never saw coming, the centipedes have learned to suspend themselves upside-down from cave ceilings with their back legs so they can then dangle down into the middle of flight paths to snatch bats right out of the air.
Check out the entire video here if you are able to unlock the terror-grip you have on your mouse.
The end usually comes quickly for the bat: Using its preferred method of dispatch, the centipede "grips the bat tightly and bites it, usually on the back of the neck, injecting [its] deadly venom."
"Hey, bat, how do you like the vampire treatment?"
We usually find it pretty hard to sympathize with bats, but the whole situation has got to be just a complete embarrassment for them and the entire Halloween-animal community.
Imagine you're a pigeon, just chillin' by the lakeside, content in the fact that you don't really have any natural predators except house cats. So you waddle over to the water's edge for a drink, doing that dumb head-nodding thing pigeons do, when BAM! You're eaten by one of those ugly fish-things that people keep to clean their aquariums.
PLoS ONE/Daily Mail
Just when you thought it was safe to eat bread crumbs at the edge of the water ...
Catfish in France have recently decided to forget about the whole "stuck in the water" aspect of their existence and have been leaping out of the Tarn River onto the land to catch unsuspecting pigeons. It's the same strategy that killer whales use to capture seals, except that seals don't have the ability to fly. Catfish just straight don't give a shit.
The species in question here is Silurus glanis, otherwise known as the Wels catfish or sheatfish (say it with a French accent!). It's the largest freshwater fish in Europe and the third largest in the world. They're not even native to the French river where these activities were filmed -- they're an invasive species that has decided to adapt to the local environment in the most terrifying way possible. And while we're usually happy enough to see something taking care of the rats of the sky, we're not sure that carnivorous land catfish are the best thing to replace them with.