8 Animals With Real Superpowers
The Animal: Gecko
The Power: Atomic Climbing How It Works: When they're not using their British accents to hawk car insurance, geckos spend their time scurrying up surfaces with the ease of a machine specifically designed to do the same. But this isn't just some snail-class gooey shit climbing we're talking about here. Every square millimeter of a gecko's footpads contains 14,000 tiny hairs, called setae, each of which branches into around 500 little tiny "spatulae" so small that they are below the wavelength of visible light. Using these invisible, atomic micromicromicrofibers, geckos are able to harness van der Waals interactions on a molecular level, sticking to almost every known surface outside of Teflon. Their grip is so strong, if it used all of its gripping power at once, a single adult gecko could hold aloft 290 lbs. At this point, it's important to note that our brave men and women in uniform almost all weigh under 290 lbs., making them prime targets for roving bands of gecko hurl-squads.
The Animal: Bombardier Beetle
The Power: Energy Blasts How It Works: A number of animal species are able to project ink, foul-smelling chemicals, or feces from their bodies. But in these cases, there is little to fear beyond stained clothing, a tomato sauce bath, or social ostracism. The bombardier beetle, however, takes bodily expulsion to a new threat level by harnessing the power of chemical reactions to release a boiling, exploding liquid from its body up to seventy times per encounter. In short, it shits napalm. We don't even need to explain what kind of threat this poses to our citizens and toilet paper industry alike.
The Animal: Platypus
The Animal: Hummingbird
The Power: Superspeed How It Works: Hummingbirds do everything fast. They've got the fastest metabolism of any animal other than insects, their heart rate can get up to 1,260 beats per minute, and they can flap their wings up to 70 times a second. One can only imagine the horrifying speed with which they'd fire shoulder-mounted rockets at our school buses. This incredible speed makes the Hummingbird the only animal capable of hovering in midair, and even flying backwards. The only device we have that can match them in aerial agility is the helicopter, and that's got nothing on them for nectar-drinking ability. If terrorists ever decide to design and manufacture Hummingbird pistols, we're going to be in for mobile, whirling vortices of sheer bullet.
The Animal: Archer Fish
The Power: Sharpshooting How It Works: The archerfish of India and Polynesia feed primarily on insects. Only, unlike normal, International Law-abiding fish, they don't just wait for a bug to fly into the water and drown. The archerfish uses a specially-shaped lower jaw to shoot a jet of water up to fifteen feet long to knock insects out of overhanging branches. They are such skilled marksman that they can routinely shoot and kill an insect six feet above the surface of the water, while compensating for light refraction. Which is all well and good when they're only shooting at bugs; let the animals wipe each other out, we say. But how long can we allow our children to cavort and play on the branches overhanging Polynesian rivers before we lose one to these deadly snipers?
The Animal: Ring-tailed Cat
The Animal: Anglerfish
The Power: Post-Mortem Impregnation How It Works: Even a carpet bombing of the sea floor may not be enough to wipe these things out for good (although it's not a bad start). Some particularly stubborn anglerfish species are able to procreate even from beyond the watery grave. The males of the species, when they find a female, will proceed with foreplay in the manner any of us would: by biting into her skin, then secreting an enzyme that dissolves his lips and part of her body, permanently attaching himself to her in the form of a decaying food tube. At the other end of the tube are the gonads, primed to release their precious payload at the woman's discretion. That's the human equivalent of stapling your nuts to an ex-girlfriend, on the premise that "she might need them later."
The Animal: Octopus
The Power: Every fucking thing How It Works: The Octopus may very well be the biggest threat to national security since brown people. They're the most intelligent invertebrate in the world, can detach their arms, spray ink, move in perfect cadence with underwater currents, squeeze through any space larger than a quarter, and change color to blend in with their surroundings. Due to the inordinate number of superhuman powers they were granted, current biological studies assert that they may, in fact, be God.
When not writing for Cracked, Michael is concocting defenses against the imagined sharktopus as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!