7 Adorable Animals That Spawn Terrifying Babies
If it wasn't for pictures and videos of cute baby animals, the Internet as we know it would probably cease to exist. But we feel that such widespread dissemination of cuteness may be giving you the wrong idea of what's actually out there; the truth, like nature itself, is a terrible thing to behold. Here are some of the other animal babies, the ones that you won't see on your aunt's Facebook page. Well, unless she's some kind of maniac. In that case, she'll just love posting close-ups of animals such as ...
Known for (surprise!) having three brown spots on each of its wings, the three-spot moth is a stylish little dude, equally at home in casual or formal settings. Look at it: fuzzy little legs, spotted wings ... it's not adorable, exactly, but it's not far off. It can see adorable from its porch. Now, where did it come from?
A burned out world of shit, apparently.
We've already shown you how some animal species trick predators by camouflaging themselves as turds. It ain't dignified, but that's the survival game, son. Nature only ever rewards dignity with a screaming, spit-soaked death. So the caterpillar of the three-spot moth employs the old fake-poo defense, with one disturbing tweak:
This guy is the Daniel Day-Lewis of pretending to be poo.
See those things dangling off the end of it there? Those are discarded heads. Its own heads, to be precise. This caterpillar actually retains its old head capsules from previous molts and keeps them around, attached to the body by long white hairs like some sort of nightmare dingleberry.
Nightmare Dingleberry would be a great band name for guys with no intention of getting laid, ever.
This literal headdress assists the caterpillar with passive camouflage, but in a pinch it uses them defensively as well. Whenever the three-spot caterpillar feels threatened, it'll start violently thrashing around, causing the heads to rattle and bounce intimidatingly. It's even thought that the heads can be used to bludgeon an assailant into submission should it get close enough. You don't know PTSD until a living shit whips you with a flail made out of decapitated heads.
"Durr ... hey!"
Most sharks are sleek, ravenous killing machines. And then there's the elephant shark. He seems less like one of "nature's perfect predators" and more like what happens when fish cousins mate. He's got kind of a mentally disabled Dumbo look going on. He's so far from terrifying, he's almost comforting. But there is one area where elephant sharks excel in horror: their eggs.
All shark eggs are pretty weird, but elephant sharks produce something that looks like the crap H.R. Giger would take after a heroin balloon popped in his intestines.
Not from smuggling it. From something much worse altogether.
These fish (despite the name, they're actually not sharks) can be found just east of Australia, the world's most ridiculously evil continent. Come breeding season, the females lay their freakish egg capsules, which can take up to eight months to hatch, and leave them in waters just shallow enough for unsuspecting tourists (that's you!) to squish between their toes.
"Get the pan. Shark omelets."
Everyone knows pandas are cute and cuddly -- they're like giant stuffed animals. Even if you objectively know that they're immensely powerful bears that could dismember you in a heartbeat, there's something about that patchy face that says he wouldn't mean it, or at least would feel bad afterward. What most people fail to realize is that delightful pandas don't start out that way. They're not the fluffy, black-and-white ball of adorableness you've seen in cute gifs and conservation posters. They're more like somebody spliced creepy little baby arms into those worms from Dune.
If you have a gecko it can be Muad'Dib!
Those subterranean mole-wights are, of course, pandas fresh from the womb. The ones above have had some time to at least grow a little fur to distract you from those faces of eyeless soul-hunger. Go back even earlier, and they look like this:
In the first picture, it looks like she's coughing up the devil. In the second picture, it's confirmed.
What the hell? Do pandas not come with eyes? How do they get them? Do they ... oh God, do they steal them?
Meet the owl moth. Harmless to most anything that isn't a blend of nutrient-enriched fluid (which comprises most of its diet), this unassuming creature couldn't offend any sensibilities, no matter how delicate. Why, it was most likely even more harmless and inoffensive as a baby ...
Don't fumble for your lighter. It can't reach through screens yet.
Just when you thought you'd seen everything, the Venom symbiote shows up in your garden and turns your tomato patch into something out of a Riddick film.
Incredibly, this monstrosity is the caterpillar version of the gentle owl moth, and while they might not be under the thrall of a murderous alien parasite, the origin story does have something of the supervillain to it: It was discovered on the edges of a volcanic crater on Italy's Mount Vulture.
Named for its plentiful vultureberry bushes.
Those corkscrewing terror-stalks popping out of its head, also called "modified tubercles," aren't just for show. When perturbed, owl moth caterpillars rear up and wave them around menacingly like Cthulhu's face-tentacles. That should be more than enough to put most birds, which already have an accelerated heart rate, into full cardiac arrest. And if not, well, it can always call in its cousin ...
Bullshit "non-poisonous." There's no way those tendrils don't kill people.
The Common Frog
Frogs begin life as eggs and eventually turn into tadpoles. Unless you were solidly drunk through fifth grade science, you know that much. But the image that comes to mind is of those streamlined, spermy-looking black torpedoes that dart around the edge of the water. That ... is not entirely accurate:
We didn't have to go far to find that misshapen, malformed homunculus up there. That's a tadpole of the species Rana temporaria, or the common frog. During one stage of their development they sport external gills, which explains those strange, diseased-looking growths you see poking out from the sides.
We'd have guessed "sea-broccoli."
Their mouths aren't fully formed yet, leaving them with a kind of pouty sucker on their face that looks like something between a perpetually staring Cyclops eye and an unwashed Fleshlight.
As if there was any other kind of Fleshlight.
Check them out all in a row: It looks like your bag of potatoes gained sentience and started organizing against you.
As potatoes are wont to do.
Here's a zebrafish!
That's ... well, that sure is a fish, isn't it? That's about as fish-shaped as you can get, yes sir. And here are the babies:
We're guessing mom and dad don't stick around long.
It's like somebody turned a Pokemon inside out. You ever give a small chew toy to a big dog? This is what you pick up from the lawn the next morning.
Scientists love these little guys because, in addition to being genetically pliable and easy to care for, zebrafish have Wolverine-level regenerative abilities that allow them to regrow their fins, tails, hearts, and even brains. Yes, the zebrafish knows your first impulse upon seeing it is murder -- hot, steamy murder for the thing that should not be -- and it's cool with that. It's evolved to counter that response. Go ahead. Do your worst. It pretty much cannot die. Although it clearly wants to.
It is far too ugly for the reaper.
The kea is a fairly exotic mountain-dwelling parrot from New Zealand, best known for the bright coloring on its wings and its propensity for intelligence (the kea can even solve simple puzzles). And since it's so goddamn smart, the first question we'd like to ask it is: What's the deal with your terrible babies?
And why on Earth would you keep making more of them?
Jesus! It looks like it wants to puke just thinking about itself. Yes, the beautiful multicolored genius parrot started life as this abomination, which looks more like something your cat coughed up than a living thing. Much like Neville Longbottom, puberty is apparently very, very kind to the kea.
According to experts, the reason the kea is listed as a "vulnerable" species is "mainly due to mammals which are able to get into its nests to steal eggs and young." This implies that kea mothers are just as repulsed by these things as we are, leaving their nests unprotected while they head off to the local parrot bar to get plastered and forget about their ungodly spawn for an hour or two.
Follow E. Reid Ross at Twitter at @ereidross and at Man Cave Daily.
Related Reading: Hey, check out this Cracked video about adorable animals with secret dark sides. If you're more interested in animals who throw a middle finger at the rulebook, check out these flying damn snakes. Oh, and just because we like you here's a lizard dressed as Spider-man.