6 Species We've Nearly Killed Off (For Dumbass Reasons)
The upward growth of mankind has been marked by the extinction of countless other species that got in our way, from the mammoths were were too tasty for their own good, to all the animals dumb enough to live where supertankers ply. It's natural selection!
But then, there are those species that, to any rational person, are being wiped out for no good reason at all. These are just some of the creatures who we're rapidly slaughtering for the pure hell of it.
Guajon: The Frog Too Horrifying To Live
Also known as "Cook's Robber Frog" and the slightly unfair "Demon of Puerto Rico," the guajon are small cave dwelling frogs. They are endangered for many of the normal reasons: habitat encroachment, introduced species eating them. Oh, and people killing them out of sheer terror.
Yes, in Puerto Rico, an innocuous two inch-long frog is being killed because they think it's kinda scary looking, believing that one look from the frog can bring down destruction and doom. So far, no one knows if Puerto Ricans have found anything peculiar in the fact that the creature they're so terrified of is also so easily defeated, but the smart money says that, no, they have not.
We're pretty sure this isn't the first species to get the genocide treatment because people were afraid of it, but we are also pretty sure this is the first one that didn't have fangs or claws and couldn't do much but ribbit.
El Chupacabras. Go back to hunting and spreading legends of a non-existent monster and leave the damned frogs alone.
The Manus Island Tree Snail Makes Great Earrings
Of all the things to hunt to extinction, why snails? Sure, some people eat them, but it's not like people are ordering super-sized boxes of them at fast food chains. And it's not like they're causing much of a threat or anything; their most dangerous activities are "hiding in cracks if the weather's too dry" and "trying not to drown."
And while these creatures are partially threatened for the standard reasons (that is, chopping down the forest that the snails call home) there is another, far more ridiculous reason:
The booming market for people who want overpriced snail jewelry.
Ironic jewelery for hippies.
Yes, even though through most of history snails on a woman was a sign of poor hygiene, these days there's a demand for bling made from the brilliant green shells the snails are living in. Thus, now you find Manus Island locals making a living off of killing and selling these creatures.
Boy, this is a tough one. After all, the dazzling colors of the shells really can't be imitated. Well, you know, unless you have some paint. It can't really be that hard; go to the beach, pick up shells, paint them green. Or use green rocks, like emeralds. They were born dead.
Elfin Tree Fern: Imprisoned In Your Living Room
On the subject of "Least Exciting Topic for a Nature Documentary," you probably thought we couldn't top snails, but you'd be wrong. Now, why don't you go ahead and guess what could be causing Puerto Rico's Elfin tree fern to go extinct. Did you guess? You were wrong again. It's TV. TV is behind this.
It seems that, in addition to the usual pressures that mankind uses to fuck up life for earth's children, the Elfin tree fern gained popularity as a house plant due to home improvement shows suggesting sticking them in a pot in the corner. The problem is the damn trees take 40 years to get to a decent size, so it was easier to go out into the wild and dig them up than to try and grow them at the risk of them losing popularity in the intervening four decades.
TV isn't the only reason these trees are heading for extinction, though that doesn't mean the competing reasons are any less retarded. People have been using the bark of these trees to carve out tiki statues for idiot tourists. And sometimes they make plates out of the wood, which they sell to idiot tourists. And sometimes they use the wood for "orchid bark," a substance used to cultivate orchids (which are predictably ripped out and sold to idiot tourists). Now, we aren't plant doctors, but if a tree is headed for total annihilation, maybe it's best that you don't make all of your shit out of its bark.
There are probably hundreds of thousands of other species of plant that can be put in a house or turned into a plate or a dumbass statue or whatever. Some of them are even trees and/or ferns. They even make fake ones out of plastic. Let's just brainstorm on this for a while.
The Asian Rhinoceros Makes a Great Placebo
You know all about this one, right? Rhino horns are used in traditional Chinese medicine; it is pretty much the basis for westerner's views on the subject. And most of us think that throngs of Chinese men are downing ground up rhino horn to get their dongs hard or get "women in the mood." Turns out we are wrong, but the truth is no less retarded. It seems that the Chinese prescribe ground rhino horn to prevent fevers and convulsions. Their medical industry is, in hindsight, largely rhino horn-oriented.
While it has no known healing properties, rhino horns are a well known cause of pants-shitting.
Clearly lacking the advanced technology required to produce aspirin, a drug that has been in production since 1853, they feel the need to rely on what essentially amounts to a giant finger nail growing on a large land mammal's face.
It seems that rhinoceros horn is made of of keratin, the same stuff your hair and fingernails are made of, so if for some reason it actually did work (it doesn't) to prevent fevers and convulsions, they could skip the whole "we have only 1000 of these things left to harvest" aspect and just harness the hair and fingernails of the over one billion fucking Chinese people.
As mentioned, the fevers can be reduced with aspirin, or Tylenol. Convulsions are a bit trickier, but there are nice synthetic drugs that don't have the horrible guilt of annihilating a species attached to them that do a much better job than rhino hair clippings.
Tigers Are the Swiss Army Knives of Chinese Wildlife
If Walt Disney movies dating before the 90s are to be believed, tigers are ferocious assholes that want nothing more than to feast on sweet human flesh, preferably children. And to be honest, what predator worth its salt wouldn't want to eat humans? Unless armed with an assault rifle, mankind's only defense against these predators is running and shitting themselves. Or, as they do in India, wear a mask on the back of your head to scare them away, because, presumably, one of the world's most successful predators is just too big a wuss to attack someone from the front.
Shown with antelope too stupid to wear a party favor.
So what does this super predator have to fear from people? Oh, wait... They live in China, so everything.
China doesn't really play nice with most animals, but tigers, being masculine and powerful, are extra fucked. While most ancient medicines seem to have a rough logic to using animal parts as medicine (tiger penis works like Viagra), China has its own set of rules that takes even this shaky logic and views it through a kaleidoscope, while using hallucinogens.
They use tiger bile to cure convulsions in children. They use tiger blood for willpower and overall health, and tiger gall stones for weak eyes. They also utilize tiger fur, which seems to make sense until you hear what they're using it for.
No, the tiger fur isn't for badass pimp suits; it's to burn. To get rid of centipedes. Hey, when we said "retarded," we meant it.
Westerners are forced to rely on V-8 and healthy diets instead of cat blood, and we're forced to scrape by with glasses for our eye problems. Many of us might consider burning the rare and expensive hides of large Asian hunting cats for our bug problems, but we're sure a large number would simply settle for bug spray.
As you can see, everything you can kill a rare, exotic apex predator for can be accomplished without the horrific genocide and ingestion of disgusting body parts and fluids, though of course all the modern alternatives have the nasty side effect of actually working.
Mountain Gorillas Make Awesome Souvenirs
Here at Cracked, we use the word "retarded" pretty wantonly. But every so often, we come across something so mind-bogglingly retarded, so utterly stupid, it defies comprehension. The poaching of mountain gorillas falls into this category. First off, gorillas are apparently popular as "bush meat," which is a blanket term for "endangered animals people like to eat because they are fucking assholes."
But again, bush meat ALMOST makes sense; we can at least grasp the concept of people enjoying food that's rare, forbidden and liberally spiced with evil. But no, with gorillas, things move beyond merely immoral into pure "What the FUCK?" territory. Gorillas are often being poached for their heads and hands. As souvenirs.
We almost can't joke about this. Almost. In Africa, they seem to have precious little in the way of noteworthy natural resources, aside from diamonds, emeralds and rain forests, so the people in nations that have mountain gorillas have taken to killing and dismembering them to sell their heads and hands as trinkets for tourists.
They hate that.
While in America, scientists were teaching Koko how to use sign language and giving her kittens, the Africans have been busy making sure her cousins never say a fucking word.
One of these. Just as trinkety, just as bullshitty, but nowhere near as bad for the gorilla population.
You can find more from David at Associated Content.
For more crazy things humans have done with animals, check out 7 Insane Military Attempts To Weaponize Animals. Or find out Swaim's thoughts on this whole extinction hoo-hah, in Extinction Is Only For Ugly Animals.
And stop by Cracked.com's Top Picks to see what we're looking at when not admiring our Elfin tree fern.