5 Terrible Ways Nature Turns Pregnancy Into a Horror Movie
Making babies generally isn't super difficult -- literally every species has some way to do it, even the stupid ones (hi, us!). Then there are the ones that, if given the choice, just plain wouldn't want to. These poor critters carry, deliver, and raise their young in such painful and deadly ways, the so-called Miracle of Life becomes a curse of pissed-off-warlock proportions. Just count your blessings that you weren't born one of these poor bastards ...
Sea Lice Babies Are Born by Eating Mommy Alive from the Inside
Sea lice exist for one reason only: to lead off this article. Otherwise, they're a totally useless burden, no matter how cute and cuddly they may be. They're barely edible, they don't improve the ocean for shit, and they infest and murder tasty fishies before we get the chance to. At least wasps are nice enough to kill other things that annoy us.
There are hundreds of sea louse species, each one more disgusting and vile than the last. Perhaps the worst is the nameless one that has no interest in killing fish, but rather each other. It all starts when a male gets horny. Try to stop fantasizing over lice boners, though, because they're rough lovers, and not in a good way. A male of this species grabs just about every female he can find (up to 25 at a time), drags them back to what I'll generously describe as a dungeon, and has his way with them. There's no mating dance, no cuddling, no intense conversation into the night -- just a whole bunch of, let's face it, louse rape.
And fuck those poor girls' dreams of escape: Scores of babies weigh them down almost immediately. These are live births, too, so the mom-to-be can't just poop out a bunch of eggs and retreat to the nearest single ladies' club. In fact, they won't be skipping town ever again, because once the kiddos are ready to be born, this happens:
Yep, after bouncing around inside their mother like she's an old-timey rubber room, baby lice escape her warm confines by literally chewing their way out. Then they just waltz out of her gaping maw, replacing the primal screams she no doubt wanted to emit but tragically could not. Wow, even human children usually aren't capable of such bullshit. Fuck Alien and its bush-league chestbursters -- how nobody's made any B-horror schlock about killer louse sperm is beyond me.
And this isn't mom lovingly sacrificing herself for the good of the next generation. No, she's totally alive, with no concrete plans otherwise, and here come her jackass kids munching and marching their way through her most vital of internal organs. She's left a bloated, lifeless, violated, chewed-up mess, immediately forgotten while her children swim off to pursue a life where rape and murder aren't merely the highlights -- they're the only thing worth living for.
Hamsters Eat Their Babies at the Slightest Hint of Danger
Animals are genetically predisposed to protect their children above all else (aside from poor mama sea louse, too busy being murdered to even think about protecting anybody). Most creatures do it by hiding their kids somewhere safe, or by brutally mauling any perceived threat that inches too close.
Hamster moms take a different approach. For the first couple weeks after giving birth, if they think their children are threatened in any way, they will eat them. Just straight-up turn them into a baby buffet. Wanna see? (WARNING: If you're dense enough to need this message warning you that it's graphic, I cannot help you.)
As you can see (if you drank enough to click on the video, that is), hamsters don't even kill their kids before swallowing them. Their natural, motherly instinct is to brutally cannibalize their blind, hairless, still-squealing babies as an alternative to somebody possibly doing harm to them. And just about anything can trigger this most tragic of feeding frenzies. If they feel they've sired too many juniors and juniorettes, they'll eat some or perhaps all of them, simply to cut down on the grocery bill.
It gets stupider, though. If naked rodents make you squee somehow, and you try to hold or even pet them, the mother will immediately jump into Panic Mode. Because her kids now smell like your dirty, stanky paws, she'll assume they're outside threats and turn them into eventual poop. That way, the children she no longer has are well protected from the forces of evil.
Shit, you don't even need to touch them. Simply looking at hamster babies can oftentimes be enough. Mama will catch your roving eyeballs, interpret it as "That giant monkey shall be the death of us all," and then spoil your fun by consuming the wee ones before you can.
If you own a lady hamster and for some reason don't want to see this live, breeders advise that you leave everything in her cage completely alone for two to three weeks after birth, no matter how much shit piles up. Also, look away when gingerly placing food and water in the cage. It might be helpful to wear surgical gloves too, in case your filthy fingernails serve as accidental clapboards, signaling action on one of nature's most gruesome snuff films.
The Gastric Brooding Frog Swallows Her Eggs and Pukes Up the Babies
Puke and pregnancy are best buddies, as your mother will bitterly recall. But with the gastric brooding frog, probably the most fucked-up attendee at Kermit's family reunion, they weren't friends so much as they were twinsies.
Also known as the Australian platypus frog because when you close your eyes it looks exactly like a platypus, this cute little croaker let her husband fertilize their eggs, allowing her to preserve her energy for the really fun part. Come incubation time, she would stick the eggs in her mouth and swallow them whole. Normally (as Mrs. Hamster is all too aware), dropping a ball of unborn young into a vat of stomach acid means an abrupt cancellation of all family planning.
To avoid that, the frog ceased acid production for up to six weeks, allowing the eggs to develop and hatch in serenity. Once alive, they had two possible exit routes. Guess which one they chose?
That's right, the gastric brooding frog was nature's sorority girl, literally vomiting up her bouncing baby not-platypi. And since frogs rarely lay one egg at a time, these poor fucks would blow giant chunk after giant chunk, over and over. All in the name of species survival, even while forsaking her own -- during the incubation period, the mother did not eat, because chewed-up food would simply take up valuable growing space. Eventually, her lungs would fail, forcing her to take in oxygen through her skin just to live on. All for a batch of ungrateful brats without the common courtesy to even ribbit a thanks.
I wrote this entry in past tense for a reason: This frog is extinct. It was last seen in the mid '80s, probably dying out because their birthing cycle sounds like a Saw outtake. But their DNA is still fresh enough that scientists are actively trying to revive it -- they've even birthed a few embryos, and I like to think they did so by swallowing the DNA solution and puking up the results. Like a good mother.
Sadly, none have survived thus far, though science is still chugging along -- they really want this frog to be a thing again. Thousands of species croak each year, and we obsess over the one that sounds like the product of a drunken National Lampoon brainstorming session.
I've never been prouder of my species.
Dolphins Get So Heavy While Pregnant They Can Barely Swim
Many pregnant women feel hundreds of pounds heavier than they really are. But while that extra weight might fuck up your chances in the NBA Slam Dunk competition, it's not so bad that it could actively kill you. Unlike our asshole friend the dolphin.
After getting knocked up, Mrs. Flipper gains a lot of weight -- like 50 percent of her baby-free poundage. So if you're an average-sized female dolphin, tipping the scales at roughly 380-400 pounds, expect to pack on an extra 200 pounds or so, most of which is decidedly not baby.
All this extra poundage does more than force the poor girl to go up 900 dress sizes -- it severely impacts how she swims. The water's drag on a pregnant dolphin's body increases as well, making an already-heavy ocean more of an impenetrable force field than ever. Imagine swallowing an anvil and then trying to run a marathon.
That would be annoying enough on its own, except it could also very well kill the poor not-fishies. Dolphin numbers are declining, and one possible reason is their extreme pregger size makes it harder for them to flee from danger. Namely, us.
Between poachers, tuna fishermen, and the occasional whoops-a-daisy oil spill, there's no end to the variety of ways we can make a dolphin's life hell. And if a cartoonishly huge baby belly is making it nigh-impossible to escape tuna nets, harpoons, and rapidly darkening oil water, then they're fucked in ways that never would've been an issue if they hadn't clicked "like" on Ecco's OKCupid profile.
The Giant Pacific Octopus Starves Herself to Death for Babies That Almost Never Survive
Noble sacrifices are great, except when they're totally in vain. The poor lady giant Pacific octopus knows this all too well, since she's genetically designed to kill herself for a bunch of babies who end up dying en masse anyhow.
The Pacific octopus is a busy breeder -- a typical pregnancy will produce anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 eggs, meaning Octomom was at least 49,992 screaming tots short of earning her nickname. Each of these eggs are about the size of a hangnail, meaning independence is a long ways away. So off to the nest they go, where they'll spend six months incubating while literally hanging from the rafters like weird little bananas.
But you know who doesn't grow and feed? Mom. The poor girl becomes so tunnel-visioned about protecting her brood from predators that she simply stops eating. For six months. Even hibernating bears don't go that long. By the time the octo-babies are big enough to hatch, mama's virtually skeletal. She uses her final bit of energy to blow her kidlets in every direction, allowing them to finally live and thrive on their own.
Then she dies, sparing her kids from having to draw straws to determine who stays behind and care for her. Not that it matters, because most of them aren't surviving anyhow. And when I say most, I mean on average all but two. Not 2 percent (which would equal about a thousand survivors), but two total. Out of 50,000-plus children, typically one male and one female make it to adulthood.
That's ... um ...
That's .004 percent? Even the most forgiving of sliding-scale teachers couldn't pass a child with a grade that shitty. Tens of thousands of deaths, including mom's slow and painful one, all for two measly lives. That must make their family reunions awkward as hell.
Jason is a Columnist, Freelance Editor, Layout Guy, and Personal Experience Interviewer. He also Facebooks and Tweets, like a good little Internet monkey.