We all worry about packs of wolves, errant bears, and rogue sharks, even though this is technically the Internet and we should all be safe in here, so long as we never leave. But you shouldn't ignore or underestimate Mother Nature, no matter how innocent and unassuming her avatar might be. If only because that's exactly what she wants you to do.
5 A Toad With a Weaponized Mustache
Toad encounters generally present little cause for panic. With no sharp claws or pointy teeth to speak of, these amphibians normally rank somewhere between "gross-looking mushroom" and "really judgmental squirrel" on the list of potential natural threats. So if we told you there's a type of toad capable of growing its own mustache, your most pressing questions would probably be "OMG where?!" and "How much does it cost to own?" and "Is his name already Mr. Toadbottom, or will I have to file some sort of paperwork?"
And then we mention that his magnificent lip-scarf is made out of face spikes, and a little bit of the joy drains out of the room. Just a little bit, though, because he's still pretty hilarious:
"Can I interest you in Mr. Toad's Wild Mustache Ride?"
Yep, the Leptobrachium boringii toad from China sports honest-to-goodness gladiator spikes on its upper lip. It seems that, among toads as among gentlemen, fine mustaches and dueling are intrinsically linked. Every breeding season, the males grow 10 to 16 of those "nuptial spines" for mustache-on-mustache combat with one another for the right to do it froggy-style. Here's a video from New Scientist titled "Horny Frogs Fight With Their Mustaches," which sounds like a mistranslated email you'd find in your spam filter, but is in fact an entirely accurate description.
During this time of year, the toads' forearms also enlarge to Popeye-esque proportions to better prepare them for the hostilities to come. Or perhaps just because they're compensating for something ...
Unlike humans, where strong forearms prepare you for the non-mating to come.
The toads are unusually violent toward one another, and their lip-spikes are "as sharp as pencil lead." So a whopping 90 percent of all combatants incur injuries during the course of the duels. But when mating season is over, the toads lose their 'Stache of Fury and stay behind to care for the unborn kids (possibly even if the eggs are not their own), while the females leave the breeding grounds. We take it all back: A mustache-fighting toad secure enough in its own manliness to be a stay-at-home dad is the kind of male role model we should all be lucky enough to find.