10 Weird Self-Inflating Animal Species

Animals have many strange ways of behaving and communicating. In this unique account, we examine 10 remarkable inflatable animal species. Just like party balloons, these creatures use air sacs, throat pouches, or their entire bodies to fill themselves with air. Their bizarre displays may feature in mating displays, amplify vocal messages to rivals, or, in the case of one otherwise well-known species, simply keep it afloat while sleeping.

10 Frigatebirds

1- frigatebird
Frigatebirds are large seabirds that belong to the same order as pelicans. With wingspans measuring over two meters (7 ft) across, forked tails, and long, hook-tipped bills, frigatebirds attack smaller seabirds and force them to drop their meals in midair. The birds appear rather drab in flight, but their spectacular, balloon-like throat pouch really lets you see that relationship with pelicans. As “klepto-parasites,” or career thieves, frigatebirds do not have to dive into the water themselves for food. Without waterproofing, they are ill-suited to do so. This lifestyle allowed evolution to turn their fishing pouches towards sexual purposes instead.

Land birds often inflate through the use of air sacs to produce sounds, but the frigatebird uses a different adaptation in a purely visual display. The air sacs of most inflating birds are linked to the lungs. The frigatebird’s method of inflating is more primitive because it has difficulty getting enough air into the throat. Over a period of almost half an hour, a male frigatebird will gradually inflate its gular pouch until it becomes a bright, red balloon almost half the size of the seabird. The effect is reminiscent of a beach ball hanging from its throat.

9 Puff Adders

2- puff adder
Snakes are known for their aggressive attitudes. However, these misunderstood reptiles are frequently acting in a purely defensive manner. Puff adders of the bitis genus take in massive quantities of air and create a substantial amount of noise. The stretchy snakes will dramatically increase in size to scare off potential predators. As you may have guessed, the name itself, “puff adder,” directly refers to their self-inflation behavior. Many human deaths have resulted from bites when the inflation display fails to provide sufficient warning. The extremely serious effects of the venom include coagulation, nerve damage, and tissue necrosis.

Every year, puff adders are responsible for 32,000 deaths in their native range of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, but 90 to 95 percent of deaths can be prevented with proper treatment due to the slow-acting nature of the venom. Phony strikes, violent sounds, and body shaking combine with the inflation prior to a physical strike. In a case of convergent adaptation, North America’s hognose snake, often mistakenly called a puff adder, will inflate itself and bluff while expanding its hood. If the inflation act fails, the snake will then stick its tongue out and roll onto its back, playing dead. Bites are very rare, and never serious.

8 Elephant Seals

3- elephant seal
The two species of elephant seal are the world’s largest non-cetacean carnivores. The northern elephant seal bull measures over four meters (13 feet) and may weigh up to 2,500 kilograms (4,400 lbs). Females of both species weigh only about a quarter of a male’s weight. Southern elephant seal bulls, noted on a previous list purely for size, reach an unbelievable 6.2 meters (20 ft) in length, with a weight of up to 4,000 kilograms (8,818 lbs).

Elephant seals are named after their giant, inflatable noses that resemble a trunk. While most animals simply breathe through their noses, both species of elephant seal fully inflate their noses with large quantities of air during snorting contests, which are their form of mating display. The inflated nose resembles an oblong balloon attached to the seal’s face. The snout extends an incredible 29 centimeters (around a foot) in northern elephant seals.

7 Sage Grouse

Milk glands distinguish mammals, but male sage grouse flaunt air sacs that bear a striking resemblance to the mammary glands of primates like humans or gorillas. The two species of sage grouse are the largest of their type in North America, measuring nearly a meter (3.2 ft) in length, and weighing up to three kilograms (7 lbs). Assembling on sage-covered “leks,” the birds inflate their frontal air sacs into two breast-shaped balloons of enormous size and walk around in circles while hooting.

By using air sacs that originally evolved as part of the respiratory system, sage grouse are a classic example of practical features evolving to be used for sexual prowess. Females select males based on appearance and the quality of their hooting and inflating displays. Unfortunately, sage grouse are becoming much rarer due to human encroachment on their breeding habitats, and are considered one of Canada’s most endangered wild birds. An emergency order was recently triggered for the protection of this incredible inflatable bird.

6 Apes And Howler Monkeys

Being primates ourselves, we are intimately familiar with the body form of monkeys and apes. Lesser known is the fact that some primates, including chimpanzees and gorillas, have inflatable throat sacs. Aside from our closest relatives, the most spectacular examples of primate bloating are the howler monkeys, widely considered the loudest animals on land. Howler monkeys inflate themselves with special air sacs in their throats during communication, territory defense, and mating displays.

While the inflated air sacs are mostly responsible for the sheer ear-piercing volume their raucous calls, enlarged hyoid (tongue) bones further enhance and amplify sounds, allowing the notes to carry farther through dense forests. Male red howler monkey hyoid bones are five times larger than those of females. Skeletal modifications have evolved in order to accommodate these self-inflation adaptions. Males have also grown breastbone notches to accommodate the tongue and air sac apparatuses. The largest new-world monkeys are found among the 15 species of howler monkeys.

5 Bustards

Bustards resemble small ostriches, but retain the ability to fly. They are native to the open landscapes of Africa, Asia, and Europe, including parts of the United Kingdom. The kori bustards of Africa and Eurasia are considered the heaviest flying animal species. Kori bustards may measure 1.5 meters (4’11″) in length and stand 1.2 meters (3’11″) tall, with wingspans of nearly three meters (9 ft). Males of these two largest species can weigh over 18 kilograms (40 lbs). The slightly smaller great bustard is Europe’s largest living bird species.

Getting air under the wings is not enough for these Hindenburgs of the bird world. During mating displays, bustards suck air into hidden throat pouches until their thin necks reach the size and shape of an American football. The sudden expansion changes their coloration by exposing white interior feathers. The birds perform dramatic dances like their close relatives, the cranes. Legends abound describing the unearthly size of these birds, and males are always much larger than the females. Unfortunately, bustards are threatened by habitat loss and excessive hunting.

4 Inflatable Toads

7- cane toad
Many frogs and toads are inflatable, most of which use the adaptation to ward off predators. While many of the inflatable animals on this list are males who puff up to lure a sexy mate, female cane toads inflate for the opposite reason—they’re playing hard to get. While both sexes inflate to ward of predators, females utilize full-body inflation to prevent a male from grasping them successfully. Such inflation seems to be a screening method to determine mate suitability—a male that can handle mating with the suddenly large female is an especially desirable and “fit” mate.

It’s partly due to this rigorous screening process that cane toads are such a devastatingly effective invasive species. Offspring are given the highest likelihood of survival because of their strong genes, which only come from worthy mates. On top of that, their ability to fit almost anything in their mouths makes them voracious predators capable of overrunning ecosystems in the blink of an eye.

3 Prairie Chickens

Greater Prairie Chicken
While sage grouse have the greatest inflation capacity among chicken-like birds, a smaller ground bird performs even odder displays. The two species of prairie chickens use inflation and weird “horn feather” displays in breeding rituals to attract the opposite sex and ward off rivals. Native to open grasslands and prairies, these medium-sized grouse hold up hornlike feathers over their foreheads while bright orange air sacs puff out from the sides of their necks.

Air sacs are inflated in part due their ability to greatly increase sound quality and volume, although the visual aspect of bird inflation displays seems prominent. The greater and lesser prairie chickens are among the most bizarre and, unfortunately, endangered of North America’s game birds, partially due to habitat loss and rising predation. Prairie chickens boast striking barred patterns and feed on plants and insects.

2 The Difference Between Pufferfish And Porcupinefish

9- pufferfish
Pufferfish and porcupinefish are two very spectacular and often poisonous examples of animal self-inflation. While both animals have been featured on Listverse before, we’ve never really covered the differences between these two commonly confused seafarers. The order tetradoniformes is a massive grouping of some very weird fish. Families include the ocean sunfish (or mola mola), triggerfish, pufferfish, and porcupinefish. Pufferfish have relatively smooth skin, and often contain powerful neurotoxins capable of killing most animals. They’re one of the deadliest animals in the sea.

Porcupinefish, also known as blowfish, resemble pufferfish at first glance. They fall under the entirely separate family diodontidae, but are contained within the tedradoniformes order. They are sometimes larger, with some species reaching nearly a meter (3.2 ft) in length. They are almost exclusively salt water fish, and uniquely possess massive spines that stick out when inflated. The spines offer an alternative (and sometimes a supplement) to nerve-damaging toxicity. Porcupinefish also have massive, beak-like jaws that can shred shellfish with ease.

1 The Walrus Is A Living Buoy

Close-up of young walrus's head as it emerges from water
The well-known walrus is probably the oddest of the pinnipeds. Males may reach 3.5 meters (12 ft) in length, with a weight of 1,360 kilograms (3,000 lbs). Lesser known is the fact that the walrus is also highly inflatable. In addition to their tusks, walruses stand out among pinnipeds because of the two air sacs in their necks. The pair of large pouches extend from the walrus’s neck and rapidly inflate to a substantial capacity.

In contrast with the showboating elephant seals, walruses usually inflate for a different purpose—to help them sleep. These air-filled pockets provide effective buoyancy, holding the air-breathing animal’s head above the water as it sleeps. The sacs are also used by the males as resonance chambers to make booming sounds during disputes in the mating season, and to attract female walruses.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/01/03/10-weird-self-inflating-animal-species/

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Bear Encounter

Any of the following situations can occur when in bear country. This recommended behavior is generally advised, but is, of course, no guarantee that you will avoid a mishap. The most important thing to remember when encountering a bear calm, giving the bear the opportunity to know that you are not hostile.

Standing Bear2 Small

<span class="litem"1. Never Run

Do not run. Bears can run faster than 30 miles (50K) per hour – faster than Olympic sprinters. Running can elicit a chase response from the otherwise non-aggressive bear.

<span class="litem"2. An Unaware Bear

If the bear is unaware of you, detour quickly and quietly away from it. Give the bear plenty of room, allowing it to continue to undisturbed.

<span class="litem"3. An Aware Bear

If the bear is aware of you but has not acted aggressively, back away slowly, taking in a calm, firm voice while slowly waving your arms. Bears that stand up on their hind legs are usually just trying to identify you, and are not threatening.

<span class="litem"4. An Approaching Bear

Do not run; do not drop your pack. A pack can help protect your body in case of an attack. To drop a pack may encourage the bear to approach people for food. Bears occasionally make ‘bluff charges’, sometimes coming to within ten feet of a person and before stopping or veering off. Stand still until the bear stops and has moved away, then slowly back off. Climbing trees will not protect you from black bears, and may not provide protection from grizzlies.

<span class="litem"5. If a Bear Touches You

If a grizzly bear does actually make contact with you, curl up in a ball, protecting your stomach and neck, and play dead. If the attack is prolonged, however, change tactics and fight back vigorously. If it is a black bear, do not play dead; fight back immediately.

Source: Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

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Read more: http://listverse.com/2007/10/01/top-5-tips-for-surviving-a-bear-encounter/

10 Birds With Truly Odd Defenses

This is a sequel to one of my first lists, 10 Mammals with odd defenses. Most birds can fly, and flying is already a very effective defense against many predators; however, with over 10,000 species of birds known to date, it was to be expected that some of them broke the mold.

Here’s a small selection of birds with unorthodox defensive mechanisms – if you think there’s another bird deserving of a spot here, don’t forget to mention it in the comments!

Fulmar Feeding Young Chick

The fulmar is a kind of sea bird, related to the better known albatross. Fulmar comes from the Norse words ful-mar, meaning “foul gull”, and with good reason. These birds are known for their horrible smell; not only the birds reek, but even their eggs do! Fulmar egg shells housed in museum collections still produce their natural, nauseating smell after a hundred years of being stored!

But although the fulmar’s foul smell is a good defense against some predators, such as humans, it is just not enough to deter other predatory birds. This is because birds usually have a poor sense of smell, and they don’t mind their prey being stinky.

Unable to fly or run away from danger, fulmar chicks developed an amazing, if rather disgusting defense mechanism; when threatened, they vomit a bright orange, irritating oil from their stomach, which not only smells bad, but also clings to the predator’s feathers (or fur). This oil makes the feathers of predatory birds become matted, thus losing their insulating properties, and the predator may die of exposure or drown if waterlogged. This makes fulmar chicks not only unappetizing, but actually very dangerous to potential predators.

Interestingly, although adult fulmars can spit oil too, chicks have much better aim, and can shoot repeatedly. They can spit practically since the moment they are born, and some have been reported as spitting even before hatching completely from their egg.

The fulmars themselves have feathers that are “immune” to the oil; this is very important because very young fulmar chicks will not only spit at predators, but at any animal that comes close, including their parents; they only start recognizing their parents (and holding their fire) when they are about three weeks old.


Found in Africa, Europe and Asia, and recently chosen as Israel’s national bird, this relative to kingfishers is noted for its unusual flight (similar to that of a butterfly), its spectacular feather crest and its nasty defensive technique.

Hoopoes have a special gland near the anus, which produces a foul-smelling substance. The bird rubs this substance on its feathers, covering its entire body with a stench similar to that of rotten flesh. Not many predators are interested on having such a foul-smelling bird for dinner.
This substance, however, has a second function; it acts as a parasite repellent, and as an antibacterial agent, protecting the hoopoe from many diseases.

Interestingly, the adult hoopoes produce this secretion only when incubating its eggs and taking care of its young; once the chicks leave the nest, the mother stops producing the noxious substance.

As for baby hoopoes, they have their very own defensive method; when threatened while alone at the nest, they squirt their feces right into the predator’s face. Needless to say, this is a very effective technique to get rid of unwanted visitors.


Killdeer are rather noisy birds found mostly in Canada, the US and Mexico; they nest on the ground, so their eggs and chicks are particularly vulnerable to predators.

In order to protect their nest, adult killdeer have developed a clever technique; when a land predator such as a cat, fox or dog approaches the nest, the adult bird moves away from the nest, dragging one of its wings as if it was broken and flapping desperately with the other, and faking a distress call.

Most predators will chase after the seemingly helpless adult, instead of getting closer to the nest; if the predator continues approaching the nest, however, the “injured” adult will crawl closer to the predator until it gains its full attention. When enough distance is established between the nest and the predator, the adult killdeer flies off.

This distraction display is known as the “broken wing act”, and is potentially very dangerous for the adult, but it has saved countless killdeer nests from being discovered and raided by predators.

As for the killdeer chicks, they are known to run away from the nest site while the predator is being distracted by the adult.

Unfortunately, the “broken wing act” works only with predators (naturally attracted to defenseless, injured targets), and is useless against large herbivores such as cows and horses which may end up trampling the nest anyways.

Burrowing Owl In Rio Ranch

Burrowing owls are found in prairies and deserts from Canada to Patagonia. They nest in burrows, hence their name, and often use the abandoned burrows of other animals; however, if they can’t find any vacant homes, they can also dig a burrow themselves. Burrowing owl chicks are often left alone in the burrow by their parents, which must hunt for themselves and their young. During this time, the chicks are vulnerable to predators such as foxes, coyotes, ferrets and house cats.

In order to keep these enemies away, burrowing owl chicks have developed a rare form of mimicry; whenever they feel threatened (for example, if an animal starts digging at the burrow entrance), the owl chicks produce a hissing call which is very reminiscent of a rattlesnake’s warning sound. Since these highly venomous pit vipers are known to hide in burrows, most predators (including humans!) prefer to flee as soon as they hear the feared rattle.

Adult burrowing owls are known to mimic the rattlesnake’s sound as well when cornered inside their burrow. This amazing defensive mechanism is among the most efficient among birds, but it has a weak point; it is useless against actual rattlesnakes. It is unlikely that these reptiles would be fooled or deterred by the owl’s mimicking call, but not only that; they are actually deaf, and can’t even hear their own rattle, let alone that of an impersonator. As a result, rattlesnakes are among the few animals that dine regularly on burrowing owl chicks.

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The Eurasian Cuckoo is best known for laying its eggs on the nests of other birds. When the baby cuckoo is born, it destroys the host bird’s eggs or chicks, thus eliminating any competitors and quickly growing to an immense size compared to its foster parents.

But laying eggs on another bird’s nest can be difficult and even dangerous for the Cuckoo, since most small birds are fiercely protective of their nests.

In order to protect itself against potential attacks, the female Cuckoo has developed an appearance very reminiscent of a Sparrow Hawk, a raptor that feeds on smaller birds.

By disguising as a ferocious bird predator, the Cuckoo can scare other birds away from their nests. As long as the false Sparrow Hawk is around, the other birds will not dare return to their nest, and so the Cuckoo can lay her egg without problem and fly away undiscovered and unharmed.

That the Eurasian Cuckoo looks like a Sparrow hawk was noticed by humans long time ago; Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder even believed that Cuckoos could literally transform into hawks. Birds, on the other hand, are seemingly unable to tell a hawk-mimicking cuckoo from a real sparrow hawk, and will panic at the sight of any of them.

The whole hawk-mimicking trick is so effective that there are several other species of Cuckoo that mimic other species of hawk; the South Asian Hawk-Cuckoo, for example, mimics a local kind of sparrow hawk, the Shikra, down to the flight style and even the way it perches!


Although owls are usually imagined as going after mice and other rodents, they also hunt many birds, and most small birds are terrified of owls, so much in fact, that when they see an owl during day time (when the owl is less likely to attack by surprise), they will noisily harass it in an attempt to drive it away. This behavior is known as “mobbing”.

Although mobbing is usually just an annoyance for the larger, most powerful owls, it could be potentially very dangerous to smaller species such as the Ferruginous pygmy owl. These fist-sized owls are skilled bird hunters, taking on prey up to twice their own size, and therefore, they are feared by all other small birds in their territory.

In order to protect itself from mobbing, the Ferruginous pygmy owl has two spots on the back of its head which resemble eyes. This is enough to deter most small birds, as they will usually not attack an owl which is looking at their direction. Tricked into believing that the false eyes are the real ones, most birds will either flee in terror, or attack again this time from “behind”, aiming at what they think is the back of the owl’s head.

Of course, in this case they will meet the owl’s real eyes and may even end up as the owl’s meal.

Hoatzin Chick

Found in the rainforests of South America, the Hoatzin was once believed to be a “living fossil”, and, even today, its exact relationship to other birds is uncertain. It is unusual in many ways; for example, it feeds on tree leaves, a very strange diet for a bird, and uses bacterial fermentation to digest its food, much like a cow. Because of this, the Hoatzin has a very strong, manure-like odor, hence one of its popular names, “stink bird”. But the Hoatzin’s horrible stench is not the reason why it’s included in this list.

Hoatzins usually build their nests in tree branches hanging over water. When disturbed or threatened by a predator, the Hoatzin chicks leap into the water to escape. They are very good swimmers and divers, and when danger has passed, they can climb up the tree and back into the nest.

In order to do this, Hoatzin chicks have two claws on each wing, reminiscent of those of Archaeopteryx and other feathered, bird-like dinosaurs. Only young Hoatzins have these claws; they disappear as the bird grows older and can escape predators by flying and no longer need to climb. Although the Hoatzin is not the only bird with claws on its wings, it is certainly the most famous, and it has been the object of debate among scientists since its discovery in 1776.

Common Potoo Classicpose C

Found mostly in Mexico, Central and South America, these bizarre nocturnal predators are also known as “ghost birds” because of their extraordinary camouflage. The potoo feeds on insects and small flying animals such as bats and small birds, and during the day, it perches on a tree and remains completely motionless, perfectly mimicking a dead or broken-off tree stump. Its feathers resemble tree bark, and its eyelids have a slit that allows the bird to see even when its eyes are closed.

Potoos will usually stay motionless even when approached by another animal (or human), and they only fly away when they feel that they have been discovered. The camouflage is so good, however, that they are almost never discovered, and they barely have any predators. This also makes the potoo extremely difficult to observe during day. At night, it can only be discovered because its eyes reflect light, shining like the eyes of a cat or an owl.

Potoos are not the only birds that mimic tree stumps (Australian frogmouths and some nightjars are also known to do so), but they are certainly the most convincing.

This small owl was little known by the public until recently, when a Japanese TV show featured its extraordinary defensive method. If approached by a small or relatively unaggressive enemy, the masked owl puffs its feathers out and hisses to make itself look bigger and fiercer; this is a common defensive method among owls, even the larger ones, and seems to be enough to scare most enemies away.

However, when confronted with a larger, more powerful enemy, the masked owl doesn’t try to intimidate it, but rather flattens its feathers and squints so that its eyes are almost invisible to the predator. By remaining motionless, and aided by its bark-like feathers, the masked owl does its best to resemble a tree stump or branch, just like the potoo, therefore escaping the larger predator’s attention. Above is a fragment of the famous Japanese TV show featuring the African masked owl (a captive specimen) reacting to two different predators, the Barn Owl and the powerful Verreaux’s Eagle Owl (Africa’s largest owl). Please do watch the clip all the way through – it is truly amazing.

Hooded Pitj.Dumnacher

Hooded pitohuis are found in New Guinea, and their defense against predators is as simple as it is amazing; they are poisonous. Hooded pitohuis feed on certain kinds of beetle that contain a powerful neurotoxin alkaloid known as a batrachotoxin (the same poison found in the skin of South American poison dart frogs).

By eating these beetles, the birds become poisonous themselves, concentrating the toxin on their own feathers and skin. They are actually known by locals as “rubbish birds”, as their toxicity makes them impossible to eat unless the skin and feathers are removed and the meat is covered on charcoal and roasted.

Touching a Hooded Pitohui can cause numbness and tingling, as well as skin burns and sneezing (as reported by scientists who have handled the creature), while eating one would probably be much more dangerous; to warn of its toxicity, this bird has a bright, orange and black coloration which allows would-be-predators to recognize it.

It is believed that Hooded pitohuis may rub the toxin on their eggs and chicks to protect them from predators. And, as if this wasn’t amazing enough, we know now that the Hooded Pitohui is not the only poisonous bird; others, such as the Variable Pitohui and the Blue Caped Ifrita (also found in New Guinea) have also been confirmed as poisonous, and it seems possible that there are many others yet to be discovered, even among already known species.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2010/12/23/10-birds-with-truly-odd-defenses/

9 Small But Incredibly Dangerous Creatures

While the creatures that scare humans most are usually large, it is the smallest that are probably the most dangerous and painful. While we can be thankful that most of us will not experience the suffering caused by the creatures on this list, many people do every year. This is not a list of the most deadly, but rather the most dangerous or painful creatures. The list excludes creatures from the sea.

498Px-Adult Deer Tick(Cropped)

Ticks are second only to Mosquitoes for their disease spreading properties. Ticks feed on blood and attach themselves to other animals (including humans). They can be difficult to remove and removal must be done carefully as they can leave part of their head behind causing serious infection. According to Wikipedia, hard ticks can transmit human diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, equine encephalitis, Colorado tick fever, African Tick Bite Fever, and several forms of ehrlichiosis.

800Px-Dsc05816 Tarantula Hawk-1

Tarantula hawks are named for the fact that they hunt tarantulas as food for their larvae. It’s sting is rated as one of the most painful in the world (though not as painful as the bullet ant). One researcher described the sting as causing “[…] immediate, excruciating pain that simply shuts down one’s ability to do anything, except, perhaps, scream. Mental discipline simply does not work in these situations.” The Tarantula Hawk is the official state insect of New Mexico.


A large biting fly fom Africa that feeds on the blood of vertebrate animals. They are known to cause Sleeping Sickness in humans and Nagana in cattle. Sleeping sickness is a parasitic disease in people and animals that is caused by Trypanosoma, a protozoa transmitted by the tsetse fly. The symptoms for sleeping sickness begin with fever and headache then a swell on the back of the neck. Afterwards, the victim may experience daytime slumber and insomnia. It could lead to death afterwards.


Also called killer bees, are descendants of 26 Tanzanian queen bees that bred with other species after they were accidentally released from a hive in Brazil. What makes the bees deadly is their defensive nature and tendency to swarm. Also, they tend to follow victims even when already far from the hive. This aggressiveness when attacking potential threats ensure a very painful death for the victim. The venom that they secrete, however, is just as potent as a honey bee’s.


A species of scorpion that is highly dangerous because of its venom. The venom is actually a powerful mixture of neurotoxins. Although, the poison would not kill a healthy adult, it could be fatal to kids and the elderly. Ironically, a component of the venom (peptide chlorotoxin) has the potential to cure human brain tumors while the other toxins may help against diabetes.


One of the most well-known spiders, especially because its venom could be fatal to humans. The venom is said to be more potent than that of rattlesnakes, however, their size and the amount secreted reduce its effectiveness. Both male and female have an hourglass shaped marking underneath their abdomen. The females are relatively larger than the males and contrary to popular belief, the females rarely eat the males after mating.


While not dangerous on their own, these ants live and travel in swarms. They are found mostly in Africa and Asia and they build temporary anthills while traveling. The greatest risk these ants pose to humans is when they are swarming through homes. When food supplies are low, these ants will swarm in sizes of up to 50 million single ants. There are reports of humans – usually young or infirm being killed through suffocation (the ants will often enter the lungs of the person) and be entirely consumed. Their mandibles are so strong that in some parts of Africa they are used individually as emergency sutures when medical supplies are not available.


A bite from a Bullet ant will not kill you, but you will never forget it. The Bullet ant (thus named because a bite feels like being shot) inflicts the most painful bite of any creature known to man. It is number one on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index where it is described as causing “waves of burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain that continues unabated for up to 24 hours”.

Anopheles Albimanus Mosquito

Deemed the most dangerous creature on Earth. This mosquito causes more than 300 million cases of malaria annually, which results in between 1 to 3 million deaths. They can also carry dengue, elephantiasis, and yellow fever. They are usually active during the nightime so one way to protect yourself is to apply insect-repellents and wear longer sleeves.

Contributor: patholdenmd

Read more: http://listverse.com/2008/05/25/9-small-but-incredibly-dangerous-creatures/

10 More Repulsive Parasites

Our planet is filled with beautiful, complex life-forms. However, as many people can attest, many life-forms are very far from beautiful. Some are deadly; others are simply downright disgusting. Many of these organisms are known as “parasites”. Parasites are the biological “moochers” of the animal kingdom, feeding off the life-blood (and other fluids) that our systems have to offer. Here are 10 (as well as one [Dis]honorable Mention) of the worst offenders (Note: A lot of this stuff is repugnant; be prepared, if you are squeamish), in order from least to most disgusting (if one could rate “digusting-ness”):


Cancer, in and of itself, is one of the most terrifying illnesses ever discovered and endured. But…what if it was contagious? Well, it is for dogs. In fact, it can actually be a venereal disease! But, you may be asking, how can cancer be a parasite? Well, CTVT is! Every cell in every tumor is a parasite. As the tumor grows, each cell drains nutrients from a victim. The tumor then makes its way to the surface, where it becomes air-borne, infecting sexual partners and curious pooches, alike (don’t worry; humans can’t get it). The tumors usually subsist and grow 3-9 months after formation, during which the poor animal can build up an immunity to CTVT. However, 3-9 months is plenty of time for this air-borne parasite to spread. CTVT is also unique, in that it is believed to be the oldest form of cancer in recorded history; cases of CTVT have been discovered (and/or theorized), going back almost 3,000 years!

Fruitflybacteria 3

While this parasitic bacteria is disgusting, many wives, exes and girlfriends may like the idea of this entry! Why? Because Wolbachia wipes out all of the males in a species!
However, the bacteria is not really cognizant (if a bacteria can even be self-aware, of course) that it is doing this. The bacteria (which infests an alarming 70% of the world’s invertebrates, including insects and aquatic life) relies on the females and her eggs to propagate their species; therefore, the males are unnecessary to its survival. Wolbachia then either kills the males outright, or transforms any male embryos into females. The bacteria has even found a way to sneak their genomes into the cells of fruit flies, which is quite an impressive (if not unsettling) genetic feat!

800Px-Sacculina Carcini

Everyone has met, has dated, or otherwise knows a liar. They deceive, they con, they cheat. But here’s a sick hypothetical situation: What if someone lied, and pretended to be your kids? And, worse, what if they were such good liars, that you actually believed them? Well, that’s what the Sacculina carcini (a parasitic barnacle) does! They invade crabs, growing tentacles that span throughout the crab’s body (even its eyes). Sustaining itself off the vitamins and nutrients the crabs need to survive, it grows into a big tumor-like protuberance on the outside of the crab’s crotch. When crabs have kids, they nurture, feed, and give transportation to them in the very same region that the barnacle “roosts” in. Thus, the crab mistakes this parasite for one or more of its own children, even going so far as to feed and protect them! It can even “feminize” male crabs.


Life is hard for the spotted-rose snapper. They’re eaten; their habitat was effected by the BP oil-spill; they’re commonly mistaken for the Colorado or Red snappers; and then, there’s…the Cymothoa exigua. The Cymothoa exigua enters through the snapper’s gills, and makes itself at home…on the poor snapper’s tongue. It clamps down, and feeds on the blood. It feeds so regularly, that the original tongue withers away and dies; the parasite then, unintentionally, acts as a “substitute tongue” for the fish. That makes this parasite the only one on this list that actually replaces an organ in a victim’s body!


We’ve all seen films like “The Omen”, ”The Good Son” or “Orphan”, where something is just not quite right about someone’s child. The Niphanda fusca, while nowhere near as sinister or destructive as Damien Thorn, is, nonetheless, creepy. Especially, when considering that the villain of this story is [about to become] a cute little butterfly! The Japanese Lycaenid Butterfly lays its eggs in the nests of other species (just like cuckoos), such as Camponotus japonicus (Carpenter ants). However, that’s not the creepy part. Once the egg hatches, the caterpillar (which looks kind of like a maggot) produces pheromones (hormones that allow biological communication between members of a species (.i.e.: perfume)), convincing the members of the hive that it’s an “upper-class” baby (that is, a child that the entire hive will devote itself to serving; the scientific term is “high-ranking caste”). The young Lycaenid ultimately hurts the hive, by depriving many of the other children [within the hive] of food and protection, potentially crippling its future.

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Anyone who has tried to lose weight can relate to just how much of a struggle it can be. This parasite (whose effects are slightly similar to a tape-worm), however, is not the way to do it… This parasite infects birds, mostly. While it doesn’t hurt non-birds-of-prey (such as pigeons, hummingbirds, and cardinals) so much, it does hurt predators like hawks, owls and falcons. It causes lesions in the lower-beak, that turn into holes in the jaw itself. This prevents these graceful animals from hunting or eating successfully, oftentimes leading to their deaths. The largest intact Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found – nicknamed “Sue” – has holes in her lower jaw, so this parasite may have been the death of this 7,000-pound, 43-foot-long beast (although many scientists believe that Sue died due to wounds incurred from a fight with some other dinosaur(s)).


While some of the parasites on this list are not directly lethal (such as #6, 7, 8), most of the them (the parasites on this list) are lethal. The word “parasite” means an organism that survives off another organism; it doesn’t necessarily mean it results in death: In fact, most organisms that die from parasites, die from a deprivation of necessary nutrients, or an inability to eat and/or hunt prey. However, there are forms of parasites that cannot survive without the death of an organism. These parasites are called “parasitoids” (entries #1, 5, 9, and 10, and the [Dis]honorable Mention, are examples of parasitoids). In regards to this wasp, they lay their eggs into other insects; the eggs, when they hatch, then briefly control the hosts’ mind before eating their way out of the hosts’ body. For example, the parasitoid wasp lays its eggs inside a Plesiometa argyra (a type of spider). Before chewing their way out of the spider, the newly-hatched eggs control the spider, causing it to spin unusual, special webs, designed to support more young wasps!

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Aren’t worms icky (Unless you are a 4 year old boy or a “worm-whisperer”, you probably won’t disagree with that statement)? They have no eyes, no legs, no arms and they’re always slimy! Imagine how much it would stink if there were worms that lived underneath your skin… Well, imagine no more! The loa loa is here for you! Or, more specifically, the fluids you have in and under your skin. Native to West Africa, these creepy, translucent worms start off as eggs, given to you by a bite from either a mango fly (Cordylobia anthropophaga) or a deerfly (from the Chrysops genus). When these eggs hatch, the worms (which are only 5-20 mm. (0.2-0.79 inches) long) follow the blood-stream to find food, only moving during the day. They only move during the day because [most] flies only come out during the daytime; if a fly bit you, this would give the loa loa the opportunity to allow the fly to swallow its eggs, thereby propagating the species. At night-time, they rest in the lungs. While this would already hurt enough as is, the loa loa can also move inside the thin skin of the eye, causing utter agony!


This has been on Listverse before (on the previous parasite lists in fact, but as a bonus entry). Too many people urinate in public pools these days. I’d bet my bottom dollar that they wouldn’t, if there were Candiru in the pool. Why, you ask? Well, their nickname is, “the donkey-castrator”. Candiru feed by swimming into the gills of fish, and hooking in to them using sharp hooks. They then wriggle their little spike-covered body around. Afterward, they feed on the fish’s blood, usually until the fish dies (making this entry a part-time parasitoid). They find the fish’s gills by using their sense of smell to follow the trail of nitrogen and other chemicals naturally produced when a fish exhales. Is there another natural fluid that has nitrogen in it? Yes. Urine. And where does urine exit from? Your genitalia. Ouch.

Fortunately, there has been only 1 confirmed case of a Candiru performing a “cheap vasectomy”, which can be seen on the Animal Planet show, “River Monsters”. And, if you want more information about the Candiru, just read William S. Burroughs’ literature. He mentions them in “Naked Lunch”, and “The Yage Letters”. If Mr. Burroughs is writing about it, chances are, it belongs on this list (no offense, Burroughs’ fans)!


I know what you’re thinking: A disgusting fungus? Isn’t that a little redundant? Well, you’re right. The Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is at the top of this list, because of just how sinister it is; like something out of a horror film! The fungus will first infect an ant, say, a carpenter ant, and will control its mind! It, for lack of a better term, forces the ant to clamp on to the underside of a leaf, and then kills it. Some time afterwards, the fungus grows a stalk right out of the ant’s head! The stalk then produces spores, which then infect other ants. It is also one of the oldest parasites on this list, dating back millions of years!

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The Xenomorph, if it wasn’t fictional, would be the deadliest parasitoid on this list. It starts its life as an egg; then, the egg hatches, and a “face-hugger” emerges (a 1st-stage parasitoid), and lays a secondary-egg into the first host. After this, a “chest-burster” emerges, and infects a second host. From there, the parasitoid matures, living within the body, until it matures completely, and violently exits the host.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2011/04/26/10-more-repulsive-parasites/

10 Experiments Showing Animals Are Super Smart

The intelligence of animals is an interesting and varied subject. Now everyone knows that dolphins and chimps display great deals of intelligence when tested, but we wanted to show you 10 lesser known animals that in comparable experiments have surprised everyone by proving that they’re way smarter than anyone ever expected.


The chicken’s brain is so tiny and inconsequential to its ability to survive that they’re actually able to live a relatively normal life without a head (like Mike the chicken in the picture above). If the fact a chicken can survive without the majority of its grey matter isn’t a sign it doesn’t need its brain, we don’t know what is.

However chickens have been shown to have a remarkably sophisticated way of communicating. In one experiment the call of a chicken that had found food was played to a bunch of domesticated fowl. Rather than simply celebrating as expected, the chickens reacted rather differently, instead articulating that food had been found to each other. An example of what scientists call, “representational signaling” something it was previously thought only primates and humans were capable of.

It was also discovered in the same experiment that chickens were able to differentiate between corn and regular rations using specific calls, again something it was believed only primate species could do.

This means that chickens are actually able to communicate a vast amount of differing information via a variety of calls, from warning each other about predators to alerting other members of their species to where food is. Not bad for a creature we consume mostly in bucket form.


Pigeons get a pretty bum rap. Not only are they stuck with less flattering nicknames than the half of the Wu-Tang Clan no one can recognize, “rats of the sky” and “flying disease bags” to name but a few, but they’re also considered vermin by almost the entire western world.

Despite this, in experiments, pigeons have been shown to possess a cognitive ability that is considered essential to our own intelligence: the ability to note whether things are different or similar from one another. For example, if shown a picture of two cars and one of a car and a truck, a person could easily recognize that one picture shows things that are the same while the other does not. Though it seems rather simple to us, this is an example of abstract thinking, a concept that is to quote, the “backbone of our thinking”.

In an experiment using a touch screen computer, a pigeon was easily able to grasp this concept. For comparison sake, the exact same experiment was performed with baboons and a similar result was found. Now considering baboons have tiny little people hands, the news that they possess the ability to recognize an abstract concept like “same or different” isn’t that much of stretch, but pigeons on the other hand, who’d have thought they have the ability do anything other than fly at your face when you least expect it.

In another experiment it was also discovered that pigeons also posses the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror with the same level of accuracy as a three year old child. Self recognition is an incredibly rare ability only found in a handful of animals and pigeons, one of the most hated and reviled birds on our planet can do it better than our own children.


Just in case you weren’t afraid of spiders enough already, we’re now going to explain to you how we’ve discovered that they’re actually smarter than you ever thought possible. Straight off the bat, though normally considered solitary creatures, certain species of spider are incredibly sociable, cable of working together in groups of several millions to construct giant, tree sized webs.

If the thought of millions of spiders working together towards a single goal isn’t scary enough, in one experiment, Portia labiata (a kind of jumping spider) was shown to be able to work via trial and error. When tasked with crossing a body water, the spider would leap or swim depending on the distance. Now this is where the experiment gets freaky: when the scientists had waves pushing the spider back towards its starting point, it would alter its tactics, never trying the same one twice, just like those velociraptors in Jurassic Park.

Even more terrifying is that the spider was able to respond to both negative and positive feedback and alter its approach accordingly. Just soak that in, spiders are both capable of working together to achieve a singular goal and responding and learning from negative experiences. So the next time you try to kill one and fail, you may have just made it stronger and more able to sneak up on you in the future.


Goldfish having a short memory span—that’s totally untrue. But the abilities of fish go way, way deeper than that—to the point that they’re able to teach each other.

In one experiment a fish was put into a tank with a net in it that had a small hole. After learning where the escape route was the fish was removed. A year later, when dropped back into the same tank the fish was immediately able to recognize its surroundings and escape.

Even more amazing still is that fish taken from the wild, when dropped into a tank full of fish that have never seen the open ocean, are able to teach their captive brethren how to recognize predators and survive on their own. Dr Brown, the researcher who conducted the above experiment, even noted that trained fish could be used to train other fish “en masse” meaning that a fish army is entirely possible.


Raccoons, with their bushy little tails, people hands and tiny adorable bandit masks don’t exactly scream “intelligent animal”, however in the few experiments ever conducted to gauge their cognitive abilities, raccoons aced everything.

In fact, the raccoon was actually supposed to be the standard, go-to lab animal but scientists found them too difficult to keep in cages because they kept escaping and stealing things.

In one experiment raccoons were placed in direct competition with rats, dogs and children. The experiment was simple, the animals and children had to recognize which of three light bulbs was going to turn on after a brief delay. Though dogs were able to do so with a delay of 5 minutes compared to raccoons paltry 25 seconds, the raccoons were able to do so while not even looking at the light bulbs, something only the children were also capable of.

In another experiment, using its fury little people-like paws, the raccoon was able to recognize objects entirely through touch. Something very few animals have ever shown the ability to do. In fact, when placed in direct competition with lab students they performed equally well. As a bonus they were even able to remember the objects over a year later to obtain a reward.

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Crows, despite having brains smaller than a dolphin’s eyeball, are smart to the point it’s wondered (by us) why they haven’t yet taken over the world. They’ve been shown to use tools, recognize humans and even play pranks on each other.

However, one of the most surprising experiments was one that showed that crows could possess a human-like ability known as “theory of mind”. In other words, crows could be able to judge the emotional and mental state of other members of their species.

In an experiment a western scrub jay (a member of the crow family) was given an opportunity to hide some food with or without another bird present. It was noted that in the cases where another bird was present and thus represented a risk of said food being stolen, the jay would invariably move the food to another hiding place if given the chance to.

Octopuses’ (or octopodes’) intelligence is one of the most scrutinized areas of research in the animal world as so many experiments have been done regarding the intelligence of these creatures.

Some experiments suggest that, like us, some of them have a preference for their right or left side. Another, more famous experiment is the well known bottle test, in which an octopus was given a bottle containing a fish, after only a few minutes said octopus was able to open the bottle and get the fish.

Researchers suggest that this shows that the octopus may be capable of what’s known as “observational learning”. Though some scientists disagree with this conclusion, the videos demonstrating this behavior certainly are convincing, not to mention terrifying.

Corn Snake

Being a creature born without legs or opposable thumbs, it would be pretty cruel not to give the snake the ability to at least think its way around a problem. Early experiments conducted on animals of the slithery kind suggested that they didn’t possess much capacity for cognitive thought and were branded as being rather clumsy.

However, in an experiment conducted by neuroscientist David Holtzman, several corn snakes were placed into small plastic tub with a number of number of visual cues indicating how to escape. After only one successful escape the snakes were then able to recognize the cues to navigate their way around the test area with no problems.

It was also noted that older snakes performed better than their younger rivals, because even in the snake world experience beats youth. Even more surprising, the experiment showed that snakes traversed their environment using their vision just as much as they used their sense of smell, completely smashing apart the myth that rely mostly on their sense of smell to navigate an environment.

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Pigs are known for two things: being stupid and being dirty. Neither of which are true and the former of which we’re going to discuss now.

The cognitive abilities of the common pig are remarkable to say the least. Not only are pigs able to remember where exactly food is located and in what quantity, but they’re also able to recognize when another pig has found food. Even more amazing is that a pig can recognize when another pig is following it and can use a variety of techniques to throw that pig off its trail.

But the most impressive experimental result came about when a researcher decided to put a mirror into a pig pen. The pigs were quickly able to use the mirrors to better orientate themselves within their environment and find food. Though it wasn’t clear if the pig was able to understand that the mirror was a reflection of itself, the sheer fact they were able to use the device to better understand their environment shows a level of mental ability on a par with some of the smartest animals on Earth.


The word sheep is the universal insult for someone so weak and unintelligent they’ll blindly follow someone or something. Yet despite this rather negative connotation the sheep is a creature capable of some remarkable mental feats equalled in some ways, only by humans and primates.

In experiments conducted by the University of Cambridge, sheep were shown yellow and blue buckets. One of the buckets contained food, the other did not. Sheep were able to pick up on this pattern just as quickly as monkeys and even humans would.

In another, far more difficult test of intelligence, the sheep were required to learn that food was held in a container of a certain shape—a test they quickly passed with comparable speed to a “slow monkey”, which is still fairly impressive.

Scientists even suggest that the humble sheep is capable of both recognizing human faces and emotions as well as route planning and forward thinking.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/05/01/10-experiments-showing-animals-are-super-smart/

Top 10 Most Horrific Parasite Infections

[WARNING: content will be disturbing to most.] Most of us (thankfully) never have had to experience any of these parasites. Though there are people who are at risk everyday and have to go through these horrid symptoms and even risk death if infected, or more so, infested.

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Taeniasis is a tapeworm infection. Tapeworm infestation does not usually cause any symptoms. Infection is generally recognized when the infected person passes segments of proglottids in the stool, especially if the segment is moving. Mmm sounds like fun! Not. People acquire tapeworms by eating undercooked meat or freshwater fish that contain tapeworm cysts. Tapeworms in the intestine usually cause no symptoms but may cause abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Though however if they are in the brain, larval cysts cause various symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, and confusion. [JFrater: Given the choice of a picture of the worm itself, and the picture above, it was a no-brainer.]

Only one bot fly species attacks humans, the Dermatobia hominis. Eggs are deposited in animal skin directly, or the larvae drop from the egg: the body heat of the animal induces hatching upon contact. Infestation can be caused by larvae burrowing into the skin of the host animal. They do not kill the host animal, and thus are true parasites (though some species of rodent-infesting botflies do consume the host’s testes/ovaries). You can cause them to suffocate by placing smoke over your wound or tape where they then try to come to the surface and you can then extract these pests. The disgusting video clip above shows an extraction from a human head.


Ascariasis is the most common human worm infection. Infection occurs worldwide and is most common in tropical and subtropical areas where sanitation and hygiene are poor. Children are infected more often than adults. In the United States, infection is rare, but most common in rural areas of the southeast. Anesthesia appears to agitate the worms and when there is infection of adults in the lungs they can exit the mouth and nose. The normal life cycle of ascaris is to migrate to the lungs for the larval stage and grow to an adult in the intestines, but sometimes the adults reside in the lungs. Ascaris eggs are found in human feces. After feces contaminates the soil, the eggs become infectious after a few weeks. Infection occurs when a person accidentally ingests infectious Ascaris eggs. Once in the stomach, immature worms hatch from the eggs. The larvae are carried through the lungs and then to the throat where they are swallowed. Once swallowed, they reach the intestines and develop into adult worms. Adult female worms lay eggs that are then passed in feces; this cycle takes between 2-3 months. I couldn’t imagine that something like that wriggling out of me! If you don’t believe they can come out of the nose and mouth, take a look at this picture [warning: don’t – it is revolting].


Also known as river blindness, this is the world’s second leading infectious cause of blindness. It is caused by Onchocerca volvulus, a nematode that can live for up to fifteen years in the human body. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of a black fly. The worms spread throughout the body, and when they die, they cause intense itching and a strong immune system response that can destroy nearby tissue, such as the eye which causes the blindness.


A parasitic and infectious tropical disease that is caused by thread-like filarial nematode worms. These worms occupy the lymphatic system, including the lymph nodes, and in chronic cases these worms lead to the disease Elephantiasis – as seen above.

First swallowed by a water flea, the Guinea worm transforms into a third stage larvae. The flea, ingested by a human being, is consumed by the stomach’s juices and the larvae of the Guinea Worm are released. They remain in the stomach for up to three months. After mating, the male dies and the female bores through the body making her way to the extremities, usually the lower leg or foot, but she can go to any part of the body. Once settled, just under the skin, she begins to grow, by eating the flesh of her carrier, and turns into a three to five foot worm. This worm is about as big around as a piece of spaghetti. While growing, she causes severe pain and cripples the carrier, so that they are not able to move. As the worm matures, a painful blister appears on the skin of the carrier. When the person puts the affected part of the body in water, the blister breaks and hundreds of thousands of tiny first stage larvae are released into the water. The adult female worm then comes slowly out of the body of its carrier through the sore made by the broken blister. It usually takes several weeks for the worm to completely exit the body.


A skin infection caused by a single celled parasite that is transmitted by sand fly bites. The sandfly vector is a 2-mm long, hairy fly. These flies are able to pass through the usual netting used for mosquitoes. Sand flies are found around human habitations and breed in specific organic wastes such as feces, manure, rodent burrows, and leaf litter. Cutaneous leishmaniasis manifests as painful sores that could, if infected, lead to death.


An insect parasite of warm-blooded animals. The fly has red eyes and a shiny blue-green body and looks similar to Australian blowflies. Flies lay eggs on the edge of open wounds from scratches, injury, branding, dehorning or castration. Larvae hatch and feed on the underlying flesh causing extensive tissue damage. Left untreated, animals can die from infection and loss of tissue fluid. Its known for the larvae to eat their host from the inside out!


A vector-borne parasitic disease, this disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected tsetse fly. At first they multiply in subcutaneous tissues, blood and lymph. In time, the parasites cross the blood-brain barrier to infect the central nervous system. Tsetse flies are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only certain species transmit the disease. They are mainly found in vegetation by rivers and lakes, in gallery-forests and in vast stretches of wooded savannah. When symptoms do emerge, the patient is often already in an advanced disease stage when the central nervous system is affected. The first stage of the disease, known as a haemolymphatic phase, entails bouts of fever, headaches, joint pains and itching. The second stage, known as the neurological phase, begins when the parasite crosses the blood-brain barrier and invades the central nervous system. In general this is when the signs and symptoms of the disease appear: confusion, sensory disturbances and poor coordination. Disturbance of the sleep cycle, which gives the disease its name, is an important feature of the second stage of the disease. Without treatment, sleeping sickness is fatal.


Don’t drink the water. And while you’re at it, you might not want to take any chances by putting your head in it, either. Naegleria fowleri, a not-so-friendly little amoeba, makes its home in warm fresh water in the American Southwest. That’s not such a problem, but it occasionally also likes to make its home in people’s brains, which is a bit of a problem. Infection with Naegleria causes the disease primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain inflammation, which leads to the destruction of brain tissue. Initial signs and symptoms of PAM start 1 to 14 days after infection. These symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. As the amoeba cause more extensive destruction of brain tissue this leads to confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the onset of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually results in death within 3 to 7 days.


This is a bonus item courtesy of Top 10 Worst Things in Nature. The Candiru is a small parasitic catfish which is found mostly in the Amazon river where it is the most feared fish – even more so than piranhas. The fish can grow to a maximum length of around six inches. Candiru feed on the blood of their host creatures by swimming into the gills and using razor sharp spines on its head to attach itself. It then chews its way through the host until it reaches a major artery and drinks blood until it is satiated. The fish finds its prey by sniffing the water and this is where it starts to get nasty: the smell of human urine appeals to candirus and they can find their way to a human penis or vagina under the water and enter it. When this happens, the fish attaches itself (causing great pain to the poor human) and it can generally only be removed through surgery. This is a very unpleasant situation to be in – so be warned: don’t pee in the Amazon river.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2010/01/13/top-10-most-horrific-parasite-infections/

10 Fascinating Facts About Animal Intelligence

Animals continue to amaze us by displaying types of intelligence we once thought were reserved for humans. So the next time your partner fakes it or someone steals behind your back, remember—the animals did it first.

10Chimpanzees Start Fashion Trends


We humans often admire individuality. Paradoxically, we also make fun of people who don’t follow the latest fashion trends in our society. Maybe we share our copycat tendencies with chimpanzees.

According to a study published in Animal Cognition, the copycat behavior of chimps leads to new traditions that are often specific to only one group of the animals. It’s similar to a new fashion trend emerging in their society.

For example, one of the researchers observed a female chimp, Julie, repeatedly sticking a strawlike piece of grass in one or both of her ears. Over time, other chimps in Julie’s group copied her behavior. A couple of the animals continued putting grass in their ears even after Julie died. It’s like your uncle wearing his hair in a mullet after the 1980s died. Some chimps (and people) just can’t give up their traditions even when they go out of style.

The researchers concluded that the grass-in-the-ear behavior wasn’t a random event among the chimps. They actively learn from one another and continue behaviors they find rewarding, even after the originator dies.

9Dogs Remember The Scents Of People They Love Better Than The Scents Of Other Dogs


One whiff of the cologne or perfume of someone we love may trigger an immediate emotional reaction in us. For dogs, with their heightened sense of smell, the reaction is even stronger. As published in the journal Behavioral Processes, researchers set out to see how dogs would respond to the scents of absent humans and dogs, both familiar and unfamiliar.

Twelve dogs of various breeds were each presented with five different scents while undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain. The scents were taken from the test dog itself, a dog and a human that lived in the same house as the test dog, an unfamiliar dog, and an unfamiliar human. None of the scent donors were present during the test.

All five scents caused a similar response in the areas of the brain that detect smells. But in the area of the brain associated with emotion, the dogs responded most positively to familiar humans—even more so than to familiar dogs. However, the reward response occurred only with familiar humans (i.e. the people the dogs loved). The researchers weren’t sure if that response was based on food, play, or other factors. They concluded that dogs remember us even when we’re not there.

8Songbirds Who Sing Less Have Better Memories


According to researchers from Duke University, male song sparrows experience a trade-off between the number of songs they sing and the strength of their other mental abilities. Furthermore, female song sparrows may use this fact to judge the mental abilities of their potential mates.

The females may have good reason to be judgmental. When male song sparrows’ ability to solve food-finding puzzles is tested, the birds singing fewer songs learned to solve the puzzles the quickest. They remembered where the food was.

The researchers believe this shows that there’s a trade-off between learning songs and other mental abilities, such as spatial memory. Song learning and spatial learning are controlled by different areas of the bird’s brain. So as the song sparrow’s brain develops, if more resources are used to learn songs, there are fewer resources left for other mental abilities like spatial memory.

This doesn’t apply to all birds, though. For example, starlings that sang more songs were quicker at solving spatial puzzles.

7Monkeys Know When To Double Down—Or Do They?


It’s well-known that humans often see patterns in random events, believing in winning and losing streaks when they gamble. Well, it turns out that monkeys love to gamble, too. So researchers from the University of Rochester decided to study three rhesus monkeys to see if they also share our belief in winning streaks.

The scientists designed a fast-paced, computerized game where each monkey would pick right or left and get a reward if they were correct. There were three types of play. Two had clear patterns of correct answers. The third was totally random.

In the types of play with patterns, the monkeys caught on to the correct answer quickly. But even in random play, the monkeys favored one side as though they expected a winning streak. This continued for weeks, with over 1,200 opportunities in each sequence.

The researchers believe this study shows that we humans have inherited our bias toward seeing patterns in random events. They think this behavior originally evolved to help our ancestors recognize real patterns to find food in the wild.

6Zebra Finches Fake It To Make It


Unlike male song sparrows, zebra finches aren’t giving their potential mates the opportunity to judge. If a zebra finch is sick, it will fake being healthy in front of other zebra finches, especially if there’s a chance to mate. No word on what else they’re faking.

A review by a researcher from the University of Zurich found that same behavior to be true of other animals as well. From rodents to birds to monkeys, many animals will alter their behavior depending on their social situation. Usually, the animals will consume less and rest more when they’re sick. This protects the life-sustaining processes they need to fight infections and recover.

But in front of their young, possible mates, or intruders threatening their territories, the animals change their priorities and hide their illnesses. That behavior might seem amusing or clever—until you realize how these actions affect the detection and spread of diseases among both animals and humans.

5Fruit Flies Think Before They Act


A fruit fly’s lifespan is usually less than 60 days. That’s not much time to develop advanced mental capabilities. But a study from Oxford University shows that fruit flies actually think before they act. They even take more time when making difficult decisions (although they obviously can’t take more than 60 days).

To begin their experiment, the researchers trained Drosophila fruit flies to avoid a particular concentration of an odor. Then the flies were placed in a narrow chamber. At one end was the odor concentration to be avoided; at the other end was a different concentration of the same odor.

When the odor concentrations were easy to distinguish, the fruit flies would quickly go to the correct end of the chamber almost every time. But when the concentrations were hard to tell apart, the fruit flies took much longer to decide, leading researchers to conclude that they were gathering information before making a decision.

The researchers were able to predict the fruit flies’ decision-making process with the same mathematical models used for humans and primates. This indicates a higher intelligence in fruit flies than was previously thought possible.

4Asian Elephants Comfort Others In Distress


Consolation is rarely seen in animals, possibly because it may require empathy. But a study published in the journal PeerJ shows that Asian elephants will now join the select group of animals scientifically shown to display this behavior. Until now, the group has only included great apes, ravens and certain other corvids, and canines.

A group of 26 captive Asian elephants in Thailand was observed for over a year. When an elephant became stressed by something like a nearby dog or snake, its ears and tail would stand out and it might even emit a roar. When this happened, the researchers observed that other elephants would rush to the distressed one to offer physical and vocal comfort.

A consoling elephant tended to make a chirping sound, almost like it was calming a human baby with “shh.” The comforting elephant might also use its trunk to softly touch the distressed elephant’s face, or “hug” by putting its trunk in the distressed elephant’s mouth. Nearby elephants might also respond as a group to help. The researchers also hope to study wild elephants to see if they also demonstrate this consolation behavior.

3Wolves Are Better Copycats Than Dogs


In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists found that wolves observe and learn from each other much better than dogs do.

The scientists studied 14 wolves and 15 mongrel dogs, each approximately six months old. During the test, each animal watched a trained dog open a wooden box with its mouth or paw to get a food reward. Afterward, all the wolves, but only four of the dogs, were able to open the box. The wolves were also more likely to use the method they originally observed.

The scientists repeated the experiment nine months later to see if the animals’ age had been a factor. But it wasn’t. Next, the researchers tested whether wolves are better problem solvers than dogs. Each animal tried to open the box without seeing it done first by a trained dog. Most of the wolves couldn’t do it.

The researchers believe that wolves are more dependent on each other, so they copy each other more easily than dogs. The scientists suspect that it’s this behavior in wolves that formed the basis for the original social understanding between dogs and humans.

2Rats Have Memories Like Computers


Like computers, rats have short-term, random-access memories that store information used in ongoing processes. Humans and crows also have these “working memories.” In humans, this allows us to store and process information to play games, solve mental arithmetic problems, and follow conversations.

Researchers at the International School for Advanced Studies were surprised to find this type of memory system in a mammal as simple as a rat. They found that the rats responded to vibrations with their whiskers much as humans would with their fingertips. The rats’ working memories helped them recognize and decide how to respond to these environmental stimuli. Without this type of RAM, rats wouldn’t be able to use their experiences to figure out the best course of action.

The researchers don’t yet know which part of a rat’s brain is responsible for working memory. Other researchers have identified the area in a crow’s endbrain that contains its working memory. Since a crow’s brain is structured differently from a mammal’s brain, this shows that the development of cognitive abilities is possible in different brain structures—including some much simpler than a human brain.

1Large Groups Of Lemurs Steal Food Behind Your Back

As an experiment in “social intelligence,” Duke University researchers tested whether lemurs from big tribes or small groups were more likely to steal food from a human’s plate when that person wasn’t watching.

In the first test, two humans sat with two plates of food. One faced the plate and the lemur as it entered the room. The other person turned his back on the plate and the lemur. In the second test, the humans sat in profile as the lemur entered the room. One person faced the plate, the other was turned away from the plate. In the third test, both humans wore black bands as they faced the plates. One person wore the band over his eyes, the other over his mouth.

Few of the lemurs understood the point of the black bands. But in the other tests, the lemurs from larger social groups were more likely than those from smaller groups to steal food behind a person’s back. The lemurs all had the same brain size. So this suggests that complex social intelligence in primates, including humans, evolved from living (and stealing) in large social groups, not from increased brain size.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/07/21/10-fascinating-facts-about-animal-intelligence/

Top 10 Ugliest Creatures

In this list I am talking about physical ugliness, not internal, so don’t even bother mentioning your most hated left or right wing politician or celebrity in the comments (I know you want to). The list does not include insects – they are a whole other level of ugliness! So, from the least ugly to the most revolting, natures 10 ugliest creatures.

10. Mata Mata

800Px-Matamata Turtle 2048X1536

The mata mata is a freshwater turtle found predominantly in South America, notably in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. The animal’s peculiar physical aspect distinguishes it from other members of its order. It is an animal highly skilled in hunting techniques. French naturalist, Pierre Barrère described it thus:

“large land turtle with spiky and ridged scales”. The mata mata is quite visually distinctive: its head is triangular, large, and extremely flattened, with many tubercles and flaps of skin, most notably a ‘horn’ on the nose. There are two barbels on the chin and two additional filamentous barbels at the jaw. The snout is long and tubular. The upper jaw is neither hooked nor notched.

9. Horseshoe Bat


Horseshoe bats (the Rhinolophidae family) are a large family of bats including approximately 130 species grouped in 10 genera. All rhinolophids have leaf-like protuberances on their noses. In rhinolophines species, these take the shape of a horseshoe; in hipposiderine, they are leaf- or spear-like. They emit echolocation calls through these structures, which may serve to focus the sound. Most rhinolophids are dull brown or reddish brown in color. They vary in size from small to moderately large.

8. Star Nosed Mole


The Star-nosed Mole is a small North American mole found in eastern Canada and the north-eastern United States. It lives in wet lowland areas and eats small invertebrates, aquatic insects, worms and molluscs. It is a good swimmer and can forage along the bottoms of streams and ponds. Like other moles, this animal digs shallow surface tunnels for foraging; often, these tunnels exit underwater. It is active day and night and remains active in winter, when it has been observed tunnelling through the snow and swimming in ice-covered streams.

7. Sloth


Sloths are medium-sized mammals that live in Central and South America. Sloths are omnivores. They may eat insects, small lizards and carrion, but their diet consists mostly of buds, tender shoots, and leaves. Sloth fur also exhibits specialized functions: the outer hairs grow in a direction opposite from that of other mammals. In most mammals, hairs grow toward the extremities, but because sloths spend so much time with their legs above their bodies, their hairs grow away from the extremities in order to provide protection from the elements while the sloth hangs upside down.

6. Naked Mole Rat


The Naked Mole Rat, also known as the Sand Puppy, or Desert Mole Rat, is a burrowing rodent native to parts of East Africa. Typical individuals are 8–10 cm long and weigh 30–35 g. Queens are larger and may weigh well over 50 g, the largest reaching 80 g. They are well-adapted for their underground existence. Their eyes are just narrow slits, and consequently their eyesight is poor. However, they are highly adapted to moving underground, and can move backwards as fast as they move forwards. Their large, protruding teeth are used to dig. Their lips are sealed just behind their teeth while digging to avoid filling their mouths with soil. Their legs are thin and short. They have little hair (hence the common name) and wrinkled pink or yellowish skin.

5. Axolotl


The Axolotl (or ajolote) is the best-known of the Mexican neotenic mole salamanders belonging to the Tiger Salamander complex. Larvae of this species fail to undergo metamorphosis, so the adults remain aquatic and gilled. Their heads are wide, and their eyes are lidless. Their limbs are underdeveloped and possess long, thin digits. Axolotls have barely visible vestigial teeth which would have developed during metamorphosis. The primary method of feeding is by suction, during which their rakers interlock to close the gill slits. Axolotls have 4 different colours, 2 naturally occurring colours and 2 mutants. The 2 naturally occurring colours are wildtype (Varying shades of brown usually with spots) and melanoid (black). The 2 mutants colours are leucistic (pale pink with black eyes) and albino (golden, tan or pale pink with pink eyes).

4. tarsier


Tarsiers are prosimian primates of the genus Tarsius. Tarsiers have enormous eyes and long feet. Their feet have extremely elongated tarsus bones, which is how they got their name. They are primarily insectivorous, and catch insects by jumping at them. They are also known to prey on birds and snakes. As they jump from tree to tree, tarsiers can catch even birds in motion. Tarsiers have never formed successful breeding colonies in captivity, and when caged, tarsiers have been known to injure and even kill themselves because of the stress.

3. Hagfish


Despite their name, there is some debate about whether Hagfish are strictly fish, since they belong to a much more primitive lineage than any other group that is commonly defined fish. Hagfish are long, vermiform and can exude copious quantities of a sticky slime or mucus. When captured and held by the tail, they escape by secreting the fibrous slime, which turns into a thick and sticky gel when combined with water, and then cleaning off by tying themselves in an overhand knot which works its way from the head to the tail of the animal, scraping off the slime as it goes. Hagfish have elongated, ‘eel-like’ bodies, and paddle-like tails.

2. Aye-aye

Icon Ayeaye Psd

The Aye-aye is a native to Madagascar that combines rodent-like teeth with a long, thin middle finger to fill the same ecological niche as a woodpecker. The Aye-aye is the world’s largest nocturnal primate, and dwells predominantly in forest canopies. The adult Aye-aye has black or dark brown fur covered by white guard hairs at the neck. The tail is bushy and shaped like that of a squirrel. The Aye-aye’s face is also rodent-like, the shape of a raccoon’s, and houses bright, beady, luminous eyes. Its incisors are very large, and grow continuously throughout its lifespan.

1. blobfish


The Blobfish inhabits the deep waters off the coasts of Australia and Tasmania. Due to the inaccessibility of its habitat, it’s rarely seen by humans. Blobfish are found at depths where the pressure is several dozens of times higher than at sea level. To remain buoyant, the flesh of the Blobfish is primarily a gelatinous mass with a density slightly less than water; which allows the fish to float above the sea floor without expending energy on swimming. The relative lack of muscle is not a disadvantage as it primarily swallows edible matter that floats by in front it.

Creature Data courtesy of Wikipedia

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Top 10 Most Deadly Animals

This is a list of the 10 most deadly animals found on land and in water. While some may seem innocuous – especially number 1, they lead to millions of deaths every year. From least, to worst, the list:

10. Poison Dart Frog

The backs of the poison dart frog ooze a slimy neurotoxin that is meant to keep predators away. Each frog produces enough of the toxin to kill 10 humans, though, strangely, in captivity, the frogs do not secrete this poison. The frogs are brilliantly coloured and live mainly in Central and South America. [Wikipedia Article]

9. Cape Buffalo

Cape buffalos weigh 1.5 tons and, when faced by danger, attack head on with razor sharp horns. They stand up to 1.7 metres high and 2.8 metres long. Humans are virtually its only predator and even lions will avoid crossing their path. Every year the Cape Buffalo is known to maul and kill multiple humans; some believe that it kills more humans in Africa every year than any other creature. [Wikipedia Article]

8. Polar Bear

These massive creatures, native to the Arctic, regularly eat elephant seals and could cut off a human head with one swipe of its paw. The Polar Bear is the most carnivorous of all the Bears and will eat walruses, whales, rheindeer, and even other polar beers. [Wikipeida Article]

7. Elephant

African Elephants, with their sharp tusks, are not as friendly as many believe. They kill over 500 people per year (either by stomping or impaling). The African Elephant generally weighs in at 16 tons. [Wikipedia Article]

6. Saltwater Crocodile

This is the largest of all living reptiles and is found mainly in Northern Australia and Southeast Asia. A healthy adult is typically 4.8 – 7 metres (15.75ft – 21ft) long, weighing up to 1.6 tons. There have been reports of larger. This creature is capable of killing and eating animals up tot he size of a water buffalo. In its most deadly attack (called the Death Roll) the crocodile grabs an animal or human with its mouth and begins to roll. A 1ton stallion is known to have been killed by this method in under 1 minute. In the water, the crocodile can move as fast as a dolphin. [Wikipedia Article]

5. African Lion

The African Lion can reach up to half a ton. Lions are thought to kill up to 70 humans per year in Tanzania. These large animals are eclipsed in size only slightly by the tiger. [Wikipedia Article]

4. Great White Shark

This shark is an exceptionally large shark found in coastal waters in all major oceans. It can reach lengths of up to 6 metres and can weigh up to 5 tons. The Great White Shark is the worlds largest known predatory fish. It is the only surviving species of its genus. In general these creatures do not attack humans, and (while there have been some fatalities) the majority of attacks on humans are believed to be test bites – the Great White Shark are known to test bite other objects in order to determine what they are. More people are killed each year in the US by dogs than Great White Sharks in the last 100 years. [Wikipedia Article]

3. Box Jellyfish

Also known as the wasp jellyfish, this salad-bowl sized jellyfish can have up to 60 tentacles as long as 15 feet. Each tentacle has enough toxin to kill 50 humans. They are found in Australia, the Philippines, and many other tropical areas. Since 1884 at least 5,567 deaths have been attributed to these creatures. [Wikipedia Article]

2. Asian Cobra

While the Asian cobra does not have the deadliest venom, it does make the most of what it has, causing the largest chunk of the 50 thousand deaths by snakebite per year. An average cobra is about 1 metre in length. [Wikipedia Article]

1. The Mosquito

Due to malaria carrying parasites transferred by the mosquito, it is responsible for the deaths of more than two million people per year. In addition, Mosquitos are estimated to transfer diseases to more than 70 million people per year. Even in countries such as the UK, New Zealand, and Japan, where the more temperate climate has reduced mosquito bites to mostly an annoyance, they still cause some deaths every year. [Wikipedia Article]

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Read more: http://listverse.com/2007/07/13/top-10-most-deadly-animals/