The 8 Most Disgusting Animal Defenses
One of our favorite animals we ever featured here was that lizard that sprays blood from its own eyes when threatened. As awesome as it is, though, it's actually not the grossest defense mechanism in nature.
The Turkey Vulture's Twice-Rotten Peace Offering
Vomiting on a predator is a time-honored tradition in the Animal Kingdom, but the turkey vulture has honed this simple skill into a veritable art form. Already, there are few animals willing to kill and eat a turkey vulture -- presumably because these birds eat rotting carrion, shellfish that washed up on shore and died days earlier, and fecal matter from other animals. Oh, and they clean themselves with their own piss. But that's not the grossest part.
On the rare instances when the turkey vulture does run into something that would like to eat it (something that is literally starving to death, we'd imagine), it's got a great plan for how to get away.
Why doesn't it just fly away? Well, if the vulture has just eaten, it has gorged itself on so much spoiled meat that it's too heavy to take off. So, the turkey vulture, too fat to fly, vomits everything in its stomach up in front of the predator as a peace offering. This isn't just your run-of-the-mill disgusting vomit, either. This is vomit that is made from all the horrible odds and ends other animals have left behind; this is rotting maggot-infested shit-covered vomit.
"Like yours is any nicer."
And once the turkey vulture has emptied out the contents of its vile gut, it waddles its fat ass away while the predator snarfs down the big steaming pile of puke. Good job, turkey vulture; crisis averted. This is why you have no friends.
And yet, there is one bird that does puke better ...
Fulmars Spray Puke Glue
Baby birds. There's little in the world that are as cute and defenseless.
Baby birds are at the mercy of predators. They can't fly and can all too easily become lunch if a predator can climb up to the nest. That's why the fulmar -- a species of sea bird that nests on cliffs -- has developed an innovative defense mechanism that keeps chicks safe and intruders from ever returning.
The term fulmar means "foul gull," and it is aptly named. When confronted with anything -- from predatory eagles to gulls passing by to unwary rock climbers -- the fulmar chick will projectile vomit an oily secretion all over the face of the approaching animal.
That orange filth that shoots out of the birds' mouths creates a rotten fish smell that won't come off, no matter how long you spend scrubbing it off your horny layer in the shower.
It's not just the smell that makes a fulmar chick's defense mechanism so horrible, either. When the gut oil of this bird gets on the feathers of other sea birds, it's so sticky that they can't get it off. It glues their feathers together, making it impossible for the poor birds to fly. When these other birds, horrified at the prospect of spending another minute on Fulmar Island, take to the water to escape, the gut oil of the fulmar chick causes the birds to lose their buoyancy and they drown.
Caw! Caw! We're really much more terrible than we look! Caw!
That's right: The fulmar chick projectile vomits murder-oil onto the feathers of other birds. It does it to its own parents too, and to camera-holding Scotsmen who wander too close.
Fortunately for the survival of the fulmar, and yet, unfortunately for the cleanliness of cold-island-rock-climbers everywhere, the fulmar's parents are immune to the oils in the chick's vomit. In fact, they greet their disgusting babies by leaning down low and vomiting fresh fish into their little hungry tummies. And so the cycle of horror continues.
Tublizard (aka The Komodo Dragon)
The Komodo dragon is 9 feet and 150 pounds of bad attitude. They live on a few isolated islands in the South Pacific because they were too gnarly for Australia -- home of gun toting spiders and blood drinking dingoes -- to handle. Size, mass and speed aside, the main attack and defense of the Komodo dragon is their bite. And it ain't because of their teeth. It's their filthy, infected mouths. Check this out:
In that video, a Komodo dragon lands a largely superficial bite on a water buffalo and then ... waits. He knows his bite will eventually do its work.
"I do not floss."
They're not poisonous. Their mouths are just so disgusting that they might as well be. The gingival tissue surrounding their teeth is constantly being lacerated, causing perpetual open wounds and the flow of blood. This turns their mouths into a Taco Bell-level bacterial orgy. After biting the buffalo, the lizard knows it's only a matter of time before the infection kills it, and then it can then feast on the toxic meat left behind.
Funk mouth is great for something that can otherwise simply tail whip you out to sea, but what about the vulnerable Komodo dragon pups? To keep safe while they farm their own oral rot, the young lizards bathe themselves in the entrails and feces of larger lizard's kills -- a move as much functional as it is fashionable.
When a Komodo dragon eats, they shake the kill's intestines around to empty them of their contents. The young then roll in the fecal matter to obtain a scent that even the world's most shit-happy rolling dog would call offensive.
What predators are the young protecting themselves from? Larger dragons that see the young as little Komodo buffalo wings.
That does look like it would be pretty unbelievable with barbecue sauce.
The Hairy Frog Will Shank You
They live your general, unimpressive frog existence: start off as tadpoles cruising the waterways, develop some legs, eat some slugs, grow to about the size of your fist and periodically enter into ritual combat with Pinhead and the other cenobites from Hellraiser.
In the box? A hairy frog. He keeps it in there because it scares him.
See, the hairy frog has a second common name: the horror frog. Apparently the hairy frog spent some time in prison and got himself a nickname to go along with his reputation for shanking fools with a shiv. A shiv made from its own bones.
Frogs are hardcore.
When these guys get picked on in a bar, they've got a plan a little more intimidating than cracking their neck or showing off their writhing python-esque abs: They break their feet. Seriously. According to New Scientist, they break a bone in their hind feet and shove the goddamned sharpened, splintered spikes through their skin. Yes, just like ...
What could be more impressive than that? How about if Wolverine could sprout stabbing appendages from all over his body? You know, like the Spanish Ribbed Newt ...
The Spanish Ribbed Newt Takes Shanking to Another Level
Found in the Iberian Peninsula as well as Morocco, the Spanish ribbed newt is 12 inches of slime-covered terror. They spend their day in cold water, under rocks or in crevices feeding on whatever invertebrate wanders close enough. They could be mistaken for any run-of-the-mill lizard, in fact, until somebody threatens it. At that point, they respond by inflating their ribcage so the poison-tipped ends of the ribs spike through their skin.
This crazy display is actually a two-step process. For stage 1, the newt weeps. Specifically, it weeps tears of milky poison.
My tears are like the toxic skin discharges of loneliness.
With that out the way, they're now covered in a nice sheen of deadly slime. Next, they angle their spine, pivoting their barbed ribs outward until they pierce the skin. Once the ribs poke through, they get coated in the sadness secretions, which, incidentally, was the name of their most recent Grammy-winning album. We're guessing at this point most of their predators get weirded out and just leave.
Um ... OK, I don't want your food that much.
The Proboscis Monkey's Boner Threat
Named for their distinctive large nose, the proboscis monkey lives on the island of Borneo where it can be found in the mangrove forests, swamps and riparian areas hunting for seeds, leaves and fruits. The monkeys live in communities ranging in size from 10 to 30 members, and if you've ever lived in a dorm or shared a house with several roommates, you understand how quickly such a setup turns into a cold war of pettiness involving piles of other people's dirty dishes and clothes and passive-aggressive notes. This tension is no different for communities of proboscis monkeys. However, they throw down in a much more civilized way:
With their monkey boners at full strength, they spread their legs, show it to their opponent, and scream and shake the branches. It seems like an odd tactic, but try it the next time somebody rubs you the wrong way. See if they don't back down. Note: THE ERECTION PART IS VERY IMPORTANT. It also helps if you have a penis that is so bright red that you could signal a rescue plane with it while lost at sea.
This guy is like, three types of endowed.
The Hoopoe Finds a Use for Anal Leakage
In 2008, the noble hoopoe was voted to become the national bird of Israel. With its beautiful plumage, bold disposition and a fierce loyalty to its family, citizens figured it was the perfect candidate.
It turned out they were wrong. This bird isn't all striking plumage and a distinctive battle cry. No, the hoopoe gained its official non-kosher status by defending itself in an officially non-kosher way. Whenever this little bird feels threatened, it turns its little hoopoe butt to the baddie, bends over and it squirts fecal matter right into the eyes of the predator.
But look how pretty!
In case a squirt to the eye wasn't enough to dissuade some predators from attempting to make a snack of it, the hoopoe makes itself further unpalatable by covering itself with a foul substance produced by a gland near its anus. Once the bird has bathed in its anal secretions, taking care to cover every feather with enough ass oil to make it shine, the hoopoe comes away from its anal-leakage bath smelling like, well, what anything that had just smeared ass juice all over its body would.
Boy, it really feels like we should make a reference to The Situation right now.
Aside from making itself too disgusting for predators to eat, it uses these secretions to keep parasites away and to fight off bacterial infection. That's right: The hoopoe's anal juice is so potent that even bacteria won't grow in its presence.
Whales Use Shit Like Ninjas Use Smoke Bombs
The dwarf and pygmy sperm whales, like their larger cousin the regular sperm whale, do not get their name from the way they look like giant sea dildos. No, whales in this family get their name from the fact that there is a slimy whitish substance inside their heads. Early sailors cut open the whales, discovered the deposit of gooey gunk and thought to themselves, Boy does that look like semen. And the name stuck. That's not why they're on this list, of course.
"What beautiful creatures! Let's murder them and make crude jokes about our semen."
Dwarf and pygmy sperm whales, as their names suggest, are small and thus vulnerable to attack by predators. These little whales lack Monstro's bite size and his unruly disposition, preferring to keep to calm, deep waters, hidden away from danger. But when confronted by dangerous predators such as sharks or dolphins, the dwarf sperm whale secretes anal syrup into the water. It then stirs the water up with its fins making a cloud, and conceals itself within it. Once the danger has passed, the whale leaves its cloud of shit water and continues on its way.
Stay classy, pygmy sperm whale.
The dwarf and pygmy sperm whales are capable of producing enough shit to, well, conceal a whale, but what's truly amazing is that there's more whale crap where that came from. If pursued, a dwarf or pygmy sperm whale can release another cloud of excrement. And then another. One of the rare times when human beings actually had the good fortune to view these elusive whales in the wild, a mother and calf repeatedly hid in clouds of the mother whale's shit whenever passing dolphins got too close.
So does that mean that the dwarf sperm whale carries around copious amounts of extra excrement just in case? Are they vulnerable to attack if they've recently crapped out all the squid they'd eaten that week? No one knows. All we do know is that if you see a dwarf sperm whale in the ocean, you may want to rethink your trajectory.
The ocean is her own private bidet.
Crystal Beran can be found on her Internet home at crystalberan.com and on Twitter at @cryssfox.
For more reasons we should be wary of animals taking us over, check out The 9 Most Mind-blowing Disguises in the Animal Kingdom and 6 Animals That Just Don't Give A F#@k.
And stop by Linkstorm to discover what's hidden in the cloud of shit that is the Internet.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infograpic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!