7 Animals That Are One Flaw Away From Taking Over the World
The fascinating thing about evolution is how it finds infinite ways for creatures to be badass. Some can rip every other species in their area to shreds, some are masters of camouflage, some just breed so fast you can't eat them all. But equally amazing is how creatures find a way to survive and thrive even with laughable and obvious design defects.
For instance ...
Mayflies Have No Mouths
These insects may only be a quarter of an inch to an inch long, but apparently most of it is dick.
Mating is all the mayflies do -- as soon as they reach adulthood, they mate in a gigantic midair orgy the likes of which have only been seen inside a Rolling Stones tour plane. Their annual sex swarm is so thick it can even show up on weather radar.
"There's a strong, sweaty bug sex front approaching from the west. Residents are advised to stock up on lubricant and MDMA."
They cause traffic disturbances and nearly black out skies with their massive swarms of depravity. After they're all sexed out, the females drop the fertilized eggs in the water and carry on with the rest of their lives.
"I'm going to business school!"
Of course, "the rest of their lives" isn't terribly long in this case, because ...
Their Stupid Defect:
They have no freaking mouths. They can't eat.
Adult mayflies do not develop working mouths. Their digestive organs are completely filled with air, which is the saddest thing we've imagined all week. As soon as they go through metamorphosis and reach adulthood, they begin starving to death. It would be bad enough if they were born without mouths, but the fact that they actually lose it when they grow up proves that nature has gone out of its way to screw them.
In a manner of speaking.
That means that, like most orgies, after the sex part is done it's a pretty ugly sight. In this case, mayfly corpses thickly litter the streets and beaches of the towns their sexcapades engulfed the night before. Sometimes snow plows have to be called in to clean up the several-inch-thick piles of their lifeless (yet totally satisfied) bodies.
Then again, if they didn't die so fast the whole world would look like this.
Octopuses Die After Sex
Screw Hollywood: It's not apes that humans should feel threatened by, it's octopuses. We've already covered their amazing camouflage and their deadly poisons -- what we haven't told you is that they're also one of the most intelligent animals in the world. They've been observed using tools and solving complex problems. They can move across land and can pour their bodies through the tiniest holes and crevices because they have no goddamn bones. Also, their tentacles have so many nerve endings that they can act autonomously. In other words, their freaking arms have minds of their own.
"I have nothing against you, human. My friends here are another story."
For our money, if there was one creature that would seem capable of organizing, developing a civilization and rising up to overthrow humanity, it would be the octopus. Why aren't these writhing, melon-headed bastards riding sharks up and down the coast harassing surfers? It doesn't make sense that these creatures are so smart and have so many astounding adaptations and yet they haven't managed to build a single underwater castle yet. That we know of.
Their Stupid Defect:
They can't have sex without dying. Yeah, that's a big one.
"Even a tentacle job is fatal."
After a male octopus has mated for the first time its own body will, in a remarkable display of post-coital shame, release a special endocrine secretion that will cause it to drop dead within a few weeks. As for the female, she lives long enough to care for her eggs ... but then that post-partum depression kicks in and causes her to stop eating and die. It's genetically programmed death.
And you think you've had some bad morning afters.
If these glands are removed, the octopus will continue living up to a whopping six months more. This is one of the most intelligent and adaptable creatures ever, but they simply aren't built to last. It's like nature itself is trying to keep these bastards in check, knowing that they would probably enslave every other species on the planet if they were allowed to build up the numbers.
Just like us, they're too horny for their own good.
The Portuguese Man-of-War Can't Swim
At first glance you might mistake this gelatinous gasbag for a jellyfish on steroids, but a Portuguese man-of-war is actually a siphonophore -- that is, an "animal" that consists of a bunch of smaller organisms working together, and they all want to kill you. Yes, there's an organized army inside this deceptively innocent-looking murder machine. It's just like the story of the Trojan horse, if horses had poisonous tentacles 30 to 165 feet long and traveled with a posse of a thousand or more other death-filled decoys.
They might also be the descendants of Cthulhu.
The man-of-war's crazy-long tentacles are covered in venom-filled capsules that paralyze and/or kill fish and other small animals when they sting. The thread-like tentacles then deliver the prey to the digestion section of this coordinated killing contraption. They eat whatever animals happen to come into contact with their tentacles, which can be hard to avoid with their length and tendency to travel in large groups.
While their sting is not typically fatal to humans, it can really mess a person up.
Chicks dig scars, but they're pretty mixed about weeping red sores.
Also, it can even sting after it's dead. How's THAT for badass?
Their Stupid Defect:
They can't swim. Or walk or crawl or fly or slither. Seriously, they have no way of propelling themselves across the water, which sort of sucks because that's where they live. They can't even steer their bodies in a different direction; the Portuguese man-of-war sort of drifts aimlessly across currents, hoping really hard that fish will come its way. The main reason they travel in such large numbers is that none of them can help where they're going.
The closest they come to controlling their destiny is when they surface. There they can use a janky little built-in sail to catch wind...
They have the look of a pool toy and the maneuverability of a floating condom.
But unfortunately, the surface happens to be where its enemies are. Then the best they can do to avoid predators is deflate some sort of bag and sink for a minute. Then it's back to drifting like a jackass. These terrifying sea creatures often end up becoming lunch for such cunning hunters as turtles.
Or, they can follow the current right up onto a beach, where they wither and die.
Somehow, this picture reminds us of War of the Worlds.
They're not the only creature that has mobility problems, though ...
Tarsiers Can't Walk
Measuring in at a puny 10 to 15 centimeters, this bug-eyed little primate is as deadly as it is cute. And it's pretty fucking cute. Unlike most primates, tarsiers are 100 percent carnivores -- they refuse to eat anything that doesn't have a pulse, by which we mean that they always feed on their prey while it's alive. The usual victims of these turd-sized predators include insects, birds, scorpions, bats and snakes.
And that one guy's hand.
Tarsiers live entirely in trees and travel and hunt by jumping branch to branch. They can leap up to 40 times their body length, right onto the back of their victim. They have even been known to take down birds mid-flight.
Once they make the leap, it's just a simple matter of sinking their giant, razor-sharp teeth into the prey's flesh a few times and dinner is served. They devour every piece of their kill; feathers, beaks, skeletons -- you name it.
We haven't seen eyes that full of wild hunger since the Glenn Beck Thanksgiving Special.
Tarsiers hunt at night, since they can see extremely well in the dark. Their eyes are so big they can't move them in their sockets, but evolution has made up for that by allowing them to rotate their necks almost 360 degrees.
Holy water makes them burn.
Of course, you already know that they've been screwed in another way ...
Their Stupid Defect:
They can climb and they sure as hell can jump ... but they can't walk. Their flimsy little legs simply can't handle it. If they fall out of a tree, they're screwed -- the best they can do is hop around like idiots. They even sleep and give birth while clinging to a tree, since to them the ground might as well be quicksand.
They look constantly terrified about the fact that somewhere, ground exists.
For this reason, tarsiers are exceptionally easy to capture. Despite their suction-cup hands, simply shaking a tree limb is enough to knock them loose. Once they're on the ground, poachers are free to capture them with a burlap sack (or predators gobble them up real quick), and unless they manage to bounce or something, there's not much the little devils can do to escape.
Despite being an endangered species and not doing too well in captivity (mainly because of the eating live animals only thing and because they tend to kill themselves), tarsiers are still sold as pets in the Philippines, where there must be a severe shortage of other pets.
Who wouldn't want to cuddle with little Hannibal here and his razor-sharp teeth?
The Shoebill Sucks at Flying
The shoebill is basically like the missing link between a stork and a pterodactyl. They were only discovered as recently as 160 years ago, possibly after they were thawed out of the large chunk of ice in which they slept since prehistoric times. They are called shoebills because their bills are supposed to resemble shoes, but whoever came up with that name apparently thinks footwear should include a hook for killing things.
Before you ask, yes. It tastes exactly like chicken.
They stand at around 4 feet tall with a 9-inch bill and are generally found in the muddy swamplands of Eastern Africa, one of the most hardcore wilderness regions of the world. Young crocodiles and small antelopes commonly succumb to the attacks of this feathered death machine, though their preferred prey include the African lungfish (one of the most terrifyingly hard to kill creatures ever), snakes, lizards and turtles.
The shoebill kills like a professional, fast and silently -- it holds perfectly still, watching its prey until the time is just right; then, in one decisive movement it lunges down head first, using its powerful jaws and nose-hook to puncture and crush its prey in an instant.
Notice how the front of his head is basically a sword.
Their Stupid Defect:
For a bird that feeds by swooping down on its prey and snatching it up, the shoebill is not very good at, you know, flying. Their wings are actually wide and powerful; the problem is that these bastards are so big that they require a lot of open space to take off, and open space is not something they have a lot of where they live.
We don't know what's going on here, but we're sure it's pornographic for somebody.
What they do have a lot of is tall grass and canopies, the exact type of thing that completely trips them up if they attempt to fly -- that 7-foot wingspan doesn't look so intimidating when it causes the giant bird to fumble around uncomfortably. This experience is so embarrassing, it seems, that this entire species has simply given up: Shoebills are known for being reluctant to fly, even preferring to build their nests on ground level.
Yep. They're huge birds for whom getting up into a tree is too much trouble.
"Everyone's laughing, aren't they? I'm going to eat a whole crate of chocolate chip cookies."
Slavemaker Ants Suck at Everything
Slavemaker ants are literally ants that make slaves out of other ants. It's that simple, and that hardcore. They fight their way into another colony, slaughter the adults and steal their young so they can force them to work for them for the rest of their lives. Here's some seriously epic footage of a slavemaker raid (they're the red ones), presented without audio so that you can play some Lord of the Rings trailer music on top.
Slavemaker scouts intentionally target the most well defended mound they can find (since they'll probably have more eggs), and then the workers barge in like an elite strike team -- sometimes it's only a handful of raiders against an entire colony. They are basically the goddamn Spartans of the insect kingdom.
"THIS. IS ... actually your ant hill. But we're taking it."
Even the way they mate is badass: The queen fakes her own death, waits for enemy ant soldiers to drag her to their own queen for feeding, then disembowels the enemy queen and rolls in her viscera, catching her smell so that the workers will see her as their queen and tend to her eggs.
Their Stupid Defect:
They're good for raiding and stealing your children, but not so good for ... anything else. As in, they literally can't feed themselves on their own. Even if food is put right in front of them, they won't know what to do with it and will starve to death. Slavemaker ants depend on their slaves for everything, even defending the colony.
"One of you needs to make a snack run. I left my license in the other hive."
Basically, they raid out of desperation, not because of how tough they are. These guys are so useless that they can't even take care of their own queen or forage for food unless they get their slaves to do it. It's not that they're lazy, they're simply incompetent at anything other than war. And when we say anything, we mean anything -- when the colony relocates the slaves must carry their confused, possibly drooling masters to their new home.
"These wings are just for show. Flying is for peasants."
Scorpions Glow in the Dark
Chances are you're already scared of scorpions, and if you're not, it's probably because you don't know enough about them. Scorpions are like spiders in little sets of armor -- they are even equipped with a special paralyzing weapon attached to their tails. Despite qualifying as an insect, we think they have more in common with a Japanese mecha. Of the 1,500 species known to man, only 25 are deadly to humans, which is 25 too many if you ask us. The rest may not kill you, but not for lack of trying (and it still hurts like hell).
We don't care how brave you are. One of these at eye level ends in a urine-soaked sleeping bag.
Scorpions are opportunistic feeders who will tear apart and eat just about anything they can plunge their venomous barbs into. Also, if you're into camping, we feel the need to tell you that most of them come out at night, in order to avoid their numerous predators.
Their Stupid Defect:
Of course, if you do come across a scorpion at night, there's a big chance you'll be able to spot it right away, because this is what they look like:
Like the ceiling of a 10-year-old boy.
Even though scorpions are nocturnal, they produce a special fluorescent chemical that causes them to light up if the stars or the moon are out. Imagine trying to sneak up on your dinner while looking like a damned neon sign. The glow in the dark action not only makes them a dead giveaway to their prey, but also to their predators and, perhaps most annoyingly, to assholes who come out to the desert so they can take artsy blacklight of them.
Which just makes us think of CSI and that episode when someone came all over a scorpion.
Scientists think that this may actually be a way to avoid predators, since it lets them know when the night is too bright to go hunting ... by making them look even brighter. In that case, why not just give them better sight and let them tell if it's too bright by looking?
Here's another explanation: Mother Nature is an asshole.
An asshole with style.
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!