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.
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.
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.
"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!
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.
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!
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.