Somewhere, a little boy is hearing the word "ostrich" and picturing a giant bird burying its head in the sand because his dumbass dad once told him they do that (just as his dumbass dad, in turn, told him). It's the Circle Of Dumbasses. Well, we've sort of made it our mission here to break that circle. Toward that end ...
5Wolf Packs Are Not Led By An "Alpha Wolf"
We know the hierarchy of wolf packs: They consist of the "alpha" and "beta," or the dominant wolf and the submissive wolf. The alpha wolf fights his way to the top, ferociously dominates the weaker members of the pack, gets first dibs at every meal, and dubs himself the Neeson of the pack. This theory was made popular back in the '60s by scientist L. David Mech. After spending years carefully studying how wolves interacted with each other, Mech proposed the alpha/beta distinction based on observed dominance displays and inadvertently spawned decades of douchebag philosophy.
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The natural order of things dictates that, at any time, only one pimp hand can be strong.
But, Science Says:
Here's the problem: The pack Mech studied was captive, and the wolves were complete strangers. That's like basing your entire understanding of human social dynamics on an episode of Big Brother.
"No alphas, no betas, and only valuable to society when eaten by wolves."
When forced to live with complete strangers, wolves will unsurprisingly form hierarchies to establish some sort of pecking order -- but, that's simply not how it works in the wild. Mech, realizing his mistake, has spent years trying to quash the myth and begging the publisher to stop reprinting his book that originally made it famous. More recent research reveals that wild wolf packs are basic family units, and the "alpha" is just a wolf who found a lonely lady wolf to bone. Then, they had some pups that will, one day, go off to do the same.
"I am an assmaster, like my father before me."
And those brutal dominance displays? Well, that really only happens around feeding time. Turns out, it's just the parents keeping their older pups from, er, wolfing down all the food before the younger siblings have gotten their share. So, it's not evidence of a brutal society run by violence -- it's just Dad making sure everybody gets a slice of pizza before the dickhead big brother goes in for seconds.
4Komodo Dragons Do Not Disable Their Prey With Killer Bacteria In Their Slobber
Komodo dragons are the largest lizards on the planet. They're surprisingly fast when they want to be, have crazy sharp teeth, and, like the alien from Alien, they can hawk a loogie that will straight-up murder a motherfucker. That's thanks to their habit of using putrefying meat like toothpaste, transforming their drooling maws into festering pits of deadly bacteria. When they hunt, they simply bite once, let the victim run away, and then patiently wait until the inevitable infection slowly and agonizingly kills the poor bastard. Then, they feast on it at leisure and start the whole "putrefying meat" cycle all over again.
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It's like a marinade created by Satan's personal chef.
But, Science Says:
Enter Dr. Bryan Fry, a biochemist and molecular biologist who cares more about the oral hygiene of giant death-lizards than is generally considered healthy this side of a supervillain.
Bryan Grieg Fry
He's the Targaryen whose invitation to the family reunion keeps getting "lost in the mail."
Fry's studies have shown that Komodo dragons really don't have festering rot-chops at all. To the contrary, he's observed them cleaning their mouths after meals to a near obsessive-compulsive degree -- an odd habit for a creature that relies on its squalid bite to hunt. Lab tests further revealed that the average dragon has 128 bacterial species in its kisser, and not one of them is capable of causing an infection that could kill so quickly. We humans, by comparison, have at least that many (probably more). And, with the possible exception of your college roommate who lives on Hot Pockets and Mountain Dew, we probably aren't going to be bringing down a wildebeest with the nastiness of our saliva anytime soon.
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His kissing booth would be worth billions.
So, what's the origin of the rotten bite myth? Well, it turns out we've had it precisely ass-backward from the get-go. It's not the predator that's a filthy, gaping bag of bacteria -- it's the prey. Specifically, the Komodo dragon's favorite snack: the water buffalo. The water buffalo is not native to the Komodo dragon's Indonesian home. Meddling humans took them from their mainland Asian habitat -- where they were accustomed to huge, idyllic fresh marshes that they could shit all over to their hearts' content -- to some small islands with a few tiny ponds here and there. And you probably don't need a doctorate in molecular biology to figure out that cannonballing into a combination sink/bathtub/toilet while having a gaping wound might present significant risk of infection.
The water was blue two minutes ago.
As a matter of fact, Dr. Fry goes so far as to posit that, if any wild Komodo dragon specimens tested over the years have exhibited higher than normal levels of oral bacteria, it was specifically due to the fact that they had been munching on a filthy-ass water buffalo. So, we all owe a collective apology to the noble Komodo dragon and a collective "that's nasty" to the water buffalo.