6 Horrifying Animal Kills Science Didn't Think Were Possible
Nature is brutal and uncaring, but at least there's generally an accepted order to it. Some things are just meant to be food, while other bigger and toothier things are meant to be predators. But some creatures seem to be bucking the system, brazenly rising above their station and doling out murder in unforeseen ways to remind us all of how precarious our own perch on the evolutionary ladder may be. For example ...
Bat-Eating Spiders Are Everywhere
We've known about massive, bird-eating horror-spiders for some time now, but actually catching a bird is more of a freak occurrence than a result of any sort of strategy on the part of the spider. But you know what isn't rare at all? Spiders catching and eating bats. That's happening all the damn time.
Another tragic case of creepy-animal-on-creepy-animal violence.
New studies have revealed that spiders are indeed eating bats, and that they're doing it deliberately and maliciously. Not just one type of spider, mind you, but lots of different species are doing this on a regular basis, and it's happening everywhere. Researchers found out that the only place that spiders aren't sucking the life out of bats is Antarctica, and that's probably only because penguins are higher in fat content.
This picture was taken in Colorado. Colorado. Nowhere is safe.
Most of the time, the bats are ensnared in strategically placed webs, but not always. Some spiders dispense with all that extra effort and may simply crawl into caves and throttle bats while they sleep, as some huntsman spiders and tarantulas have been observed devouring them on forest floors.
Time to get rid of those bats in your attic the natural way.
Sure, that's pretty unlucky for bats, but they're still the world's most successful bug hunters, and there's not a lot of shame in being bested by spiders. But actually ...
Centipedes Are Eating Bats, Too
In the Amazon, a place where everything would very much like to see you dead, centipedes can get big. Really big. The largest of their terrible kind is Scolopendra gigantea, the Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede. They can grow up to a foot in length, with reports of some Venezuelan versions reaching 18 inches.
Suddenly the destruction of the rain forest doesn't seem like such a bad thing.
Not only are these slithering obscenities big, but apparently they're also crafty. Giant centipedes have been observed going big-game hunting in caves with healthy but unwitting bat populations, just like their spider pals. Devising a scenario that the bats surely never saw coming, the centipedes have learned to suspend themselves upside-down from cave ceilings with their back legs so they can then dangle down into the middle of flight paths to snatch bats right out of the air.
Check out the entire video here if you are able to unlock the terror-grip you have on your mouse.
The end usually comes quickly for the bat: Using its preferred method of dispatch, the centipede "grips the bat tightly and bites it, usually on the back of the neck, injecting [its] deadly venom."
"Hey, bat, how do you like the vampire treatment?"
We usually find it pretty hard to sympathize with bats, but the whole situation has got to be just a complete embarrassment for them and the entire Halloween-animal community.
Catfish Are Learning to Eat Birds
Imagine you're a pigeon, just chillin' by the lakeside, content in the fact that you don't really have any natural predators except house cats. So you waddle over to the water's edge for a drink, doing that dumb head-nodding thing pigeons do, when BAM! You're eaten by one of those ugly fish-things that people keep to clean their aquariums.
Just when you thought it was safe to eat bread crumbs at the edge of the water ...
Catfish in France have recently decided to forget about the whole "stuck in the water" aspect of their existence and have been leaping out of the Tarn River onto the land to catch unsuspecting pigeons. It's the same strategy that killer whales use to capture seals, except that seals don't have the ability to fly. Catfish just straight don't give a shit.
The species in question here is Silurus glanis, otherwise known as the Wels catfish or sheatfish (say it with a French accent!). It's the largest freshwater fish in Europe and the third largest in the world. They're not even native to the French river where these activities were filmed -- they're an invasive species that has decided to adapt to the local environment in the most terrifying way possible. And while we're usually happy enough to see something taking care of the rats of the sky, we're not sure that carnivorous land catfish are the best thing to replace them with.
Frogs Are Swallowing Rats Whole
As a predator, it's a good rule of thumb to know precisely what you're getting into before you make a move. After all, you don't want to take a bite out of something poisonous or wind up facing an opponent that could potentially get the upper hand. Or you could be like South American horned frogs and shove literally everything you see down your enormous piehole no matter the consequences, even if it's pretty much the same size as you.
Eating anything smaller than your head is for pussies.
Horned frogs are known for a monstrous, gaping chasm for a mouth and an appetite that's best described as "indiscriminate." Their mouths appear to account for half of their entire body, which explains their other common name, the Pac Man frog. They'll eat insects, of course, but will also gleefully slurp down other frog species, lizards, mice, and each other.
Even their tadpoles are cannibals. While you're imagining that, you should also know that horned frog tadpoles are also the only known vertebrate larvae that can scream.
Jesus, close your mouth when you chew.
Horned frogs are so fearlessly voracious that virtually nothing that moves is immune from their unprovoked gobbling attacks -- sometimes to the point where it's downright suicidal, as "some have been found dead in the wild with the remains of an impossible-to-ingest victim still protruding from their mouths." We're pretty sure there's an important life metaphor there somewhere.
Praying Mantises Are Snatching Birds
The praying mantis is already one of the world's more unpleasant creatures -- it looks like a miniature alien, and it tends to be way bigger than an insect has any right to be. But as much as you don't want one of these things landing on your face, it's still hard to imagine that they're capable of eviscerating anything bigger than themselves. That's if you've never seen one eat a bird.
Don't turn your back on that thing, kid.
Larger mantises are perfectly capable of snagging passing birds in flight, and can also take on some lizards, frogs, snakes, and rodents. Here's one mugging a mouse. If that doesn't drive the point home, here's one gnawing a hummingbird's head off.
The hummingbird's tiny, sap-sucking tongue lolling out as it dies in agony is a lovely touch.
You don't have to travel to some remote, malaria-themed jungle hell to see this type of thing go down, either. The photos above were taken at someone's front yard bird feeder, and this one here comes courtesy of Richard L. Walkup, who offered a play-by-play of the scene that unfolded at his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania:
"... this hungry mantis captured and killed a hummingbird not much smaller than itself. The mantis used its spiny left foreleg to impale the hummingbird through the chest while leaving his right leg free. We surmised that the mantis ran the hummer through and dangled its full weight on its foreleg while he consumed the flesh of the hummingbird from the abdomen. After he had his fill, the mantis gave his foreleg several swift jerks and freed his leg."
Holy crap. Replace the word "mantis" in the last paragraph with "xenomorph" and "hummingbird" with "colonial Marine," and it sounds like an after action report from an LV-426 reconnaissance mission.
Moths Are Developing a Taste for Blood
On the rare occasions when Siberia comes up in conversation, there are usually only three things that come to mind: brutal cold, bleak desolation, and inhospitable gulags. If the place wasn't already enough of a tough sell as a tourist destination, in 2007 we found out it's also one of a select few places in the world with a booming population of bloodthirsty vampire moths.
Mothferatu? Quick, somebody get a script over to the Syfy Network, stat!
Most moths of the genus Calyptra are fruit eaters, and all of them started out that way, but a few of them figured out that the same terrifying face spike that they'd been using to pierce the outer skin of fruit could be put to much better use as a hypodermic needle on mammals (humans included), and they began to feast on the blood of the living.
A bite from one of these moths is reportedly much more annoying than that of a mosquito, but unlike mosquitoes, it's only the male moths that are actively seeking warm blood. And they don't just suck your blood like a mosquito, either -- they actually rely on their victims' own blood pressure to force the blood up through their proboscis while they gently rock back and forth to force said proboscis deeper into the flesh.
Don't think a moth proboscis sounds scary? Check this shit out.
Global warming may be allowing vampire moths to increase their range, as they've been showing up with increasing frequency in areas that gratefully never before had to include "painful biting moth" on their list of things to complain about. If you happen to see one flitting about overhead, or worse, slowly working its hungry dagger-like blood hose into your forearm, try not to panic overmuch, because vampire moths also like nothing more than to gleefully lap up your tears.
"Do I need to tell you again that your mother never loved you? Or can I finally eat?"
E. Reid Ross does some other stuff over at RealToyGun.com.
For more reasons to purchase a flamethrower, check out The 6 Most Badass Murder Weapons in the Animal Kingdom and 5 Terrifying Serial Killers Who Happened to Be Animals.