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5 Animals That Could Take Over the World (If They Wanted To)

The top of the food chain is a pretty great place for humanity to be, for a whole bunch of reasons. For the sheer dietary variety alone, being able to eat anything we want is just the best.

Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Brand X
"Hmmm. Which of God's creations shall I have today?"

Perhaps more obviously, humanity's dominion over the lesser beasts has ensured that on a day-to-day basis, we can be free from the stress of simple survival. While every other animal has to always be alert, worried about what larger, more cunning animals are doing, humans have been able to relax and dedicate our fight-or-flight reflexes to more leisurely pursuits, like car racing and fight clubs and car fighting. But how did we get to be so fortunate? Are we at the top of the food chain because of our own merits, or because other, cleverer animals simply let us? What if they changed their minds?

Because not a day goes by without someone here at Cracked fantasizing about punching an animal, we felt particularly well-suited to answer this question (which we posed to provoke fantasies about punching animals). What follows, then, is a study of the five animal species best poised to take back this planet from us. Here we shall discuss their strengths, their weaknesses, and how, if push came to shove, these species would fare against an elite team of Humanity Marines in a battle to control the world.

#5. Octopus

H. Zell via Wikimedia Commons

Weight: 20-155 pounds

Terrain: the sea

Special Powers: intelligence, ink-squirting, shape-shifting, base-8 arithmetic

Population Available for Military Service: unknown

Military Force Analysis:

For thousands of years, no one paid much attention to the octopus. It was kind of weird looking, it lived underwater, and until the invention of deep fryers, it wasn't especially tasty. Also, octopuses didn't really attack humans, so they never attracted the same level of attention as sharks or tigers or tiger sharks did.

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

So it's only in the past couple decades that scientists finally got around to looking at octopuses, at which point they found out that they're actually pretty smart. Spookily smart. Because it'll eat most things smaller than itself, the average octopus has got a whole mess of different hunting techniques it uses to capture the various prey. They're tool users, nest builders, and presumably pretty good blackjack dealers. And they've got excellent memories; scientists have taught octopuses all sorts of tricks, like disassembling LEGO models, opening locked cages, and solving mazes.

Less charmingly, they can all use these memories to hold grudges. There's a case of an octopus scientist (octologist?) that a particular octopus took a particular dislike to, possibly because she messed up a complicated octopus handshake ritual. The octopus hated this girl so much that any time she walked by his tank, he'd spit on her. She disappeared for a while, because who's got time for that, only to return a year later to find that, yes, the octopus recognized her, and yes, he was going to keep spitting on her.

Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty
"This is my Tank and I am the Law and I am the Lash."

If that doesn't sound so bad to you, like if you don't live next to any octopus tanks, well, just know that they can move around pretty good on land, too. In captivity, they apparently leap out of their tanks all the freaking time, at which point they scurry along the ground like all the nightmares ever. Octopus scientists (octometrists?) have found them behind desks, on bookshelves, and in teapots. Also, some of them are shape-shifters, meaning everything around you right now could potentially be an octopus. If you didn't plan on sleeping this week, say hello to the mimic octopus:

Yeah. So, octopuses are intelligent, tool-wielding, shape-shifting grudge holders, and the only reason they haven't attacked us yet is because to them, we don't taste very good without being deep fried either. As soon as they master boiling-grease technology, humanity is on notice.

Mission Log, Operation: Terror in the Deep

Zeke: I don't like this, Sarge.

Sarge: You don't have to like it. You just have to do it. We have to get these eight-legged SOBs back for what they did to Buenos Aires. That's why we're taking the fight to their home.

Frenchie: But our guns! They don't work underwater.

Biscuit: I'm also getting sand in my mask.

Sarge: Get back in formation, Private Biscuit.

Biscuit: But I dropped my mask. Wait. Here it is.

Zeke: Biscuit? BISCUIT!?

Biscuit: Oh God it wasn't my mask it was a shape-shifting octopus oh God HAAAAAAAALP!

Sarge: Shoot!

Frenchie: We can't!

Sarge: Then kick him! Kick him in the head!

Biscuit: IT'S IN MY HAIR IT'S IN MY HAIR IT'S IN MY HAIR.

#4. Army Ants

Alex Wild via Wikimedia Commons

Weight: not so big

Terrain: Africa, South America, Asia

Special Powers: strength, numbers, strength in numbers

Population Available for Military Service: numbers do not go up this high

Military Force Analysis:

"Army ants" is a description of a few different species of nomadic ants that move and hunt in massive colonies, sometimes numbering millions of ants at once.

Mehmet Karatay via Wikimedia Commons
How many grad students had to die to complete that census?

Army ants are also, happily, completely carnivorous, and with millions of them in one place at a time, they essentially never stop killing, tearing through hundreds or thousands of prey an hour. They only stop killing for a few weeks a year, but don't relax -- that's just because they take a breather to make more army ants.

They're clever, too, moving by day in a variety of formations to protect the more valuable members of the colony, and to drive and trap their prey before them. Witnesses have observed army ant waves 65 feet wide. And at night, the ants stop, forming a colony out of their own bodies, full of tunnels, passageways, and public spaces, filled with what still must surely be a tremendous amount of murdering other species.

They can turn cow corpses into skeletons, and yes, have already been known to kill humans, although for now it's just been the slowest and weakest -- people unable to move out of the way of the relatively slow-moving columns. But don't take too much solace in that, because they can move underground, too. And were they to ever organize on a scale larger than a few million, that could change. Because boy howdy, there are a lot of them. In terms of total body mass, all the ants on Earth may outweigh all the humans, and when you consider just how enormous humans are getting, that amounts to a whole lot of ants.

Mission Log, Operation: Zergling Rush

Zeke: Feels quiet.

Sarge: Last civvies evacuated yesterday, Zeke. After what those six-legged SOBs did to Kuala Lumpur, no one's taking any chances.

Frenchie: Listen! Zey are coming!

Sarge: Eyes up, team. Wait. Where's Biscuit?

Zeke: He went to go take a leak.

Sarge: Biscuit, get back on the concrete right now!

Biscuit: What's going on ... OH GOD NO!

Frenchie: Zut alors!

Sarge: Shoot!

Zeke: We'll hit Biscuit!

Frenchie: And our bullets! They are too big for the leetle ants!

Biscuit: THEY'RE IN MY HAIR THEY'RE IN MY HAIR THEY'RE IN MY HAIR.

#3. Cape Buffalo

Gouldingken via Wikimedia Commons

Weight: 1,000-2,000 pounds

Terrain: Africa. The Capish part.

Special Powers: size, fearlessness, obnoxiousness

Population Available for Military Service: 900,000

Military Force Analysis:

When dopey Internet comedy writers discuss the dangerous animals of Africa, the Cape buffalo is often, and surprisingly, overlooked. Although everyone understands the dangers that lions and hippos and elephants pose, relatively few people (re: people who piss off large animals for fun) know that the Cape buffalo is perhaps the biggest killer of humans of them all, and certainly not to be messed with.

Ikiwaner via Wikimedia Commons
If the Wu-Tang ever decided to endorse a cow, it would be this one.

Why are they so deadly? Well, they'll attack just about anything that gets too close to them, with no provocation (other than "existing too close to them"). Humans, cars, trucks, whatever. They'd probably run down a tank, but no one's been willing to risk one of their tanks yet.

Also of note, along with being the size of cars, they, much like cars, are not brought down by casual gunfire. Their bones are so big that they are essentially bulletproof when shot at with many smaller calibers. It takes massive, thumb-sized bullets to take them down, and even then, often more than one; Cape buffaloes have been known to sprint away after taking grievous wounds. And not just to go wander off and die somewhere. No, getting shot just seems to piss them off. Cape buffaloes are notorious for leaving blood trails and circling around on the people hunting them to try and take them down from behind.

That's right. While wounded, they use themselves as bait, in a trap that will result in them frontally attacking a truck full of people carrying small artillery pieces. They do not take shit from anyone, and were they ever to organize themselves militarily, or even just stop standing still while we carefully aim at their brains, humanity could be in a lot of trouble.

Mission Log, Operation: Cow Patty

Zeke: Here they come.

Sarge: Frenchie, get up on the 50. As soon as they get over that rise, you give them hell.

Frenchie: With plezure. Come get some, you bastards. This is for Gretchen and Claude and Flaubert and all the others from Marseille.

Sarge: Good. Biscuit, you deployed that razor wire in the alley behind us, right?

Biscuit: Is that what you asked me to do? Oh man. That makes so much more sense than what I did.

Sarge: So the alley behind us isn't a mass of razor wire?

Biscuit: No. I built a high shelf and put the stack of wire up there.

Sarge: What? Why!?

Biscuit: I thought you wanted to raise it. Like to stop bears from eating it. I don't know.

Zeke: They're coming from behind us!

Biscuit: Sorry, guys, that's on me.

Sarge: Brace yourselves!

-A massive impact rocks the Humvee. Frenchie falls from the roof turret-

Zeke: Frenchie! Are you OK?

Frenchie: Non!

Zeke: They're on the roof!

Sarge: It's OK. This is armored. We'll be safe here.

Frenchie: Merde!

Zeke: He's right!

Sarge: They're pooping on us! They're pooping in the turret!

Biscuit: IT'S IN MY HAIR IT'S IN MY HAIR IT'S IN MY HAIR.

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