5 Terrifyingly Advanced Ways Animals Know How to Kill
Whether you know it or not, humanity is fighting a war right now, and we are losing. Badly. That's because this fight is with Mother Nature herself, and while you're over there on the other side of this screen, microwaving tea and knitting tiny sweaters, that bitch is out there building biological superweapons 24/7. If all the world is a stage and we are but its players, then this show is called You Did What to My Wife? these things are Liam Neeson and you're the Eastern European terrorist who dies from getting repeatedly stabbed with his own frozen fear-urine.
Gladiator SpidersRight off the bat, it's clear we're in trouble. There are a lot of words you don't want preceding "spider" -- "behemoth," "Hot Pocket," "genital" -- but "gladiator" is still somewhere toward the top. No matter how fervently you hope it to be true, no, " gladiator spider" is not just a sinister name. Yes, unfortunately, it was named for its inventive and unique hunting practices. Specifically, the fact that it is the only spider in the world that both manufactures and uses weapons to kill. The gladiator spider (also called the ogre-faced spider, because scientists want to make very, very sure you don't ever fuck with it) first constructs a frame using the bare branches of nearby shrubbery. Between them, it weaves a tight, square mesh of silk. Then, when it's all finished, it simply packs it all up and leaves.
"Screw you guys, I'm taking my net and I'm going home." The gladiator spider then suspends itself from a single strand of silk above the forest floor and, wielding its net between its forelegs, it waits. When some poor unsuspecting insect walks beneath it, the gladiator spider springs into action,
The Iberian Newt
We've covered the Wolverine-esque
Nature operates on the same logic as a movie prison: You can't just win the fight, esse, you got to show all the other animals that you're loco, too, or they'll make you their bitch. And even though shankin' a punk with your own ribcage is pretty hardcore, the Iberian ribbed newt doesn't even stop there: It also secretes a toxic poison through its skin -- not to try and ward off potential predators before it's chest-smashing time, but so the spiked ribs that it's shoving through its own abdomen will come out coated in its own poisonous flesh.Jesus, that's not "stabbing a dude on your first day to show 'em you mean business" crazy; that's a "stabbing yourself just to show your enemies how to do it
Tentacled Sea Snakes
They say it's better to pull a bandage off quickly, rather than slowly pull out every arm hair individually. So let's just get this over with as quick as possible: There are psychic snakes.Those are real things that really exist, and you just have to live with it. They're called
Well, duh. It's a snake, after all; it's not going to use its freaky super powers to give you the Keno numbers.
The tentacled snake subsists mostly on fish, which is a tougher life than it sounds because most of their prey has a built-in reaction to danger called a C-start. Basically, fish can sense sound waves in the water, and if they match certain criteria, a controlled muscle spasm kicks in automatically, sending them swimming at top speed away from the potential predator. The tentacled snake has actually evolved to exploit this, however. It will wait until a fish closes within striking distance, but it won't strike. First, it motions with its midsection in a precise way that mimics the prime "danger criteria," causing the fish to C-start (remember, this is an involuntary reaction on the fish's part). When the fish does start, it flips around in the blink of an eye and flees ... right into the snake's waiting jaws. To recap: The tentacled snake has figured out the evolutionary mechanism by which fish perceive danger, and then constructed an elaborate, biological false alarm to send them scurrying into its own mouth. But if the C-start happens faster than the eye can see, how does the snake actually catch the damn things once they're headed in the right direction? Simple: It doesn't strike at the prey directly, it strikes at where
Related: Massive Snake Spotted in Frick Park
Allow me to set your mind at ease for once: A tarantula hawk is not a flying tarantula. Nature doesn't hate us that much (yet). But it's not that far down on the terror charts:
When the guy whose job it is to take the worst pain ever starts describing his feelings like the tagline to a horror movie, that shit has as astronomically high likelihood of being real.
"Did you say somethin'? Cause my poison whip here, it thinks it heard somethin', and brother? It's got reeeaaaal good hearing."
That's right: The blanket octopus actively seeks out and dismembers one of the most dangerous creatures in the sea just to use its limbs as weapons. That's like you waking up one day to find you've evolved an immunity to slash wounds, then immediately leaping out of bed and sprinting off into the woods so you can use your newfound abilities to hunt down a grizzly bear, rip its claws off and start beating wolves with them.
You can buy Robert's other book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
For more from Brockway, check out 5 Lovable Animals You Didn't Know Are Secretly Terrifying and The 5 Current Genetic Experiments Most Likely to Destroy Humanity.