10 Harsh Animal Parenting Techniques

We often hold animals up as examples of dedicated and selfless parenting. Animal mothers ferociously protect their young, sometimes standing up to predators much stronger than themselves. That’s not to say that all animals are gentle parents. In fact, some have pretty harsh parenting styles.

10 Burying Beetle

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A burying beetle’s diet consists of the rotting carcasses of birds and small rodents. Once a carcass is found, a number of beetles will wage war over who gets to keep it. The strongest couple will usually prevail. They then bury the carcass and the female lays 10–30 eggs in the soil above it.

Burying beetles are among the few insect types where both parents take care of their young. This requires careful food rationing. The larvae are usually able to feed themselves but will often resort to “begging” for regurgitated food. With up to 30 kids screaming for their attention, it’s no wonder that the parent beetles occasionally snap. Greedy offspring get taught a harsh lesson—by being devoured. Consuming the most nagging larvae helps keeps the rest more honest about their dietary needs.

9 Rhesus Macaque

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Rhesus macaques are easily recognizable by their red faces and brown fur. They hold the honor of being the first primates to ever go to space. Rhesus macaques usually live in large social groups called “troops.” They raise their children in an open, communal atmosphere of the troop. Just like us.

Unfortunately, they’re also just like us in a different way: Some rhesus macaques get physical when disciplining their children. Up to 10 percent of rhesus macaque mothers were seen scratching, biting, or dragging their children abusively, especially during the first months of the infants’ lives. These bouts of aggression are usually interchanged with long periods of normal care giving. (And, similar to humans, abused macaque babies were more likely to become abusers when they had children of their own.)

8 Tropical Skink

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Tropical skinks are a type of lizard that (shockingly) live in the tropics. Females lay up to 13 eggs during the breeding period. There are many threats to a skink’s clutch of eggs, mostly from egg-eating snakes. Skinks typically attack the invading snakes in an attempt to protect their eggs, but if snakes begin to attack more frequently, the mother skink will use a curious strategy: She will eat her own unhatched eggs.

This move is reminiscent of “scorched Earth” tactics. The mother skink prevents predators from getting her eggs, while recycling egg materials, so that she can try again with a future brood. She is especially likely to resort to this strategy if she’s already carrying another clutch of eggs in her belly. While it makes good sense for the mother to wait on better times, the unborn skinks can’t be all too happy with this parenting approach.

7 Mustached Tamarin

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Mustached tamarins are found in the Amazon. They’re black and have what looks like an upside-down white “heart” on their face. The heart resembles a mustache, hence the name. Despite their deceptively cute looks and small size, tamarin mothers aren’t always gentle and kind. If they believe that an infant has a low chance of survival, they may simply kill it to “cut their losses.” While it’s common for many animals to weed out the weaker babies, mustached tamarins were observed to do this in an especially gruesome way—by throwing their babies out of trees.

6 Harp Seal

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Harp seals are named for the harp-shaped rings on their backs. Harp seal mothers give birth to a single pup in late February or March. She will protect, care for, and feed them—for about two weeks. After that, the mother says “enough is enough” and abandons the baby alone on ice.

Abandoned pups have to survive on their own fat reserves. They fast for around five weeks after being left alone and lose up to 10 kilograms (22 lbs) of body weight. Only then will they gradually start to feed on crustaceans and small fish. This parenting style ensures that the pups quickly develop the skills necessary to fend for themselves.

5 Guinea Fowl

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Guinea fowl are indigenous to Africa but have been domesticated and bred as livestock elsewhere. The guinea fowl mom doesn’t seem to care much about the well-being of individual chicks. She will drag the flock through wet and cold grass and travel over long distances, expecting the rest to keep up. Because of this, a number of chicks die of getting too cold and wet. Others become exhausted on these long journeys and fall behind. For that reason, farmers are advised to use hen mothers to raise the young guinea fowl chicks.

4 Panda

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Everybody loves the adorable panda. It’s the real-life equivalent of a Care Bear. Unfortunately, the panda population has long been considered endangered. A lot of effort is being put into helping pandas survive and breed. Yet panda mothers themselves are quite negligent parents. They often give birth to two cubs but only end up caring for one. Newborn panda cubs are extremely helpless, requiring their mom to properly hold and position them when nursing. Moms often fail to do this with one of their cubs. As if that wasn’t enough, panda moms are also known for accidentally crushing their newborns while sleeping. (If that isn’t a weight-loss wake-up call, we don’t know what is.)

3 Moose

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The mother moose is the ultimate protective parent. During the first year of a calf’s life, she will guard it tirelessly. Anyone who gets between a moose mom and her calf is in for a world of hurt. But that all changes when mom is expecting a new calf. Once that happens, the mother moose will viciously chase away the calf she was protecting so diligently.

Naturally confused by this turn of events, the calf will attempt to rejoin its mother, only to be chased away again. The calf will then follow its mother at a distance. After a few days of rejection, the calf will finally give up and leave. Sure, any animal is forced to leave home eventually, right? The problem is that during all this confusion and mooning around at its mother, the young moose is quite vulnerable and may fall prey to a wolf or a bear. But if the calf survives, he learns independence quickly and begins to fend for himself.

2 Red Kangaroo

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Red kangaroo mothers usually feed three different babies, called joeys, at the same time. These joeys are in three different stages of development. One is old enough to live outside the pouch but still needs mom’s milk. Another lives inside the pouch and gets fed there. The last is at an embryo stage inside the uterus. Talk about a multitasking mom!

Sadly, when droughts occur, mother kangaroos are forced to make a tough parenting decision. Unable to produce enough milk for all three, mom will stop feeding the oldest one, leaving him to his own devices. This usually means that the oldest joey doesn’t make it. While this approach seems ruthless, it allows kangaroos to raise a higher number of joeys far more efficiently than humans (also partly due to the fact that most humans don’t raise joeys).

1 Barnacle Goose

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Barnacle geese are found in the northern regions of Greenland, Norway and Russia. In order to protect their eggs from predators—mainly arctic foxes and polar bears—barnacle geese build their nests on mountain cliffs. While this makes their offspring hard to reach, it presents another challenge: Vegetation that barnacle geese feed on is found at the bottom of these cliffs. Parents don’t bring food to their offspring, which means that baby goslings have to come down to feed.

But three-day-old goslings are unable to fly, so they are basically forced to perform “controlled” falls. They jump out of the nest and stumble down cliffs, often higher than 400 meters (1,400 ft). Many goslings don’t make it, and even if they do, there’s still a chance of them running into predators below.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/10/17/10-harsh-animal-parenting-techniques/

18 Things Every Awkward High Schooler Understands

1. You’re EXCELLENT at stalking your crush…


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2. …but not so great when it comes to actually talking to him.


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3. When your class is reading aloud paragraph by paragraph and you skip to yours so you can practice in your head.

4. When you have a presentation in front of the class and you’re freaking out the entire time…

5. …but then it gets pushed to the next day because everyone took too long.


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YAAAAAAS.

6. You always wear your best outfit on the one day that your crush is absent.

7. You absolutely dread walking in late to class because everyone feels the need to turn and look.

8. You’re really great at thinking of comebacks…six hours after the actual confrontation.

9. When you start daydreaming about getting your first kiss and you trip…in front of your crush.

10. The pain of needing to cough but not wanting to attract attention so you try to hold it in.


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11. When a teacher calls on you and you don’t know the answer and every. single. person. is staring at you.

12. Everything about gym class is actually horrifying…from the changing to your attempt at sports.


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13. You walk into the wrong classroom way more than you should.

Photo Credit: rburtzel via Compfight cc

14. You spend most of your conversations feeling like you’re annoying whoever you’re talking to.

15. Several times a day you start daydreaming in class and then you realize you’ve been creepily staring at someone the entire time.

16. The feeling of horror when the teacher asks you, specifically, to stay after class.


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17. But keep doing you, because deep down you know you’re charming, spectacular…


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18. …and SUPER cute!

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/kaelintully/18-things-every-awkward-high-schooler-understands

10 Bizarre Animal Facts

The natural world is a wild place; both ancient and ever evolving, there are no shortage of weird stories. For all we know about animals, we are constantly surprised by their ability to adapt and survive despite the costs. Even our house pets, subject to thousands of years of domestication, can harbor dark sides we’d rather not think about. Below are ten strange animal tales; from flying crocodiles to giant rats to a sexual predator of the sea.

Co Mammals Nine Banded Armadillo

Leprosy is a horrible, disfiguring disease largely confined to more ancient times. It is extremely rare in the United States, with just 150-250 yearly cases reported, mostly amongst those who have traveled to third world countries. But there is another bizarre vector for leprosy: the armadillo. The elusive, armored creature is native to the American south, where it is most likely to be seen as roadkill. But even in this age of fast food and frozen pizza, some people still eat armadillos, mostly in Louisiana and Texas. They’re taking their lives in their hands. While leprosy is treatable if caught early, often the damage is done before symptoms manifest. Humans and armadillos are the only two animals in the world that are known to have the disease.

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Crocodiles are some of the most fearsome creatures on the planet, responsible for many human deaths throughout the world. They are even formidable enough to feast on adult lions who wander too close to the water’s edge. But few could ever imagine such a beast terrorizing them while flying in a plane thousands of feet from the earth’s surface. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened in 2010 on a flight in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The small passenger plane was flying its customary route between the capital city of Kinsasha and the Bandundu airport when the crocodile, which was being smuggled inside a passenger’s bag, broke loose. The stewardess fled toward the safety of the cockpit, with the passengers in tow. The commotion caused a catastrophic load imbalance on the plane that the pilots were unable to correct. The aircraft crashed into a house, killing the crew and 19 passengers. The crocodile survived. It was killed later with a machete blow to the head.

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There are few creatures on the planet as cute as the Giant panda. But you may have noticed that your local zoo doesn’t have any, and for good reason. The critically endangered panda is native only to a tiny section of China. They do not breed well in captivity, and there are only a couple hundred in zoos, with another 1,500–3,000 potentially living in the wild. All of the pandas in the world currently belong to China. Years ago, the country exercised what was called “panda diplomacy”, giving pandas as gifts to powerful allies such as the United States and Great Britain as a sign of good faith. Since 1984, however, the Chinese government will only lease the animals, at a cost of up to a million dollars a year. This fee, along with the enormous cost of maintaining the panda’s diet (it costs about five times more to feed a panda than it does an elephant) make it almost impossible for all but the largest and most profitable zoos to keep them.

Robot Jockey Camel

Although it lacks some of the high speed excitement found at the Kentucky Derby, camel racing has been popular in the Middle East for hundreds of years. In the past, jockeys were typically children (some barely more than toddlers), whose light weight allowed the camels to run faster. Today, robot jockeys are taking over. The robots are remote controlled; in one arm, they hold a whips, and the other controls the reins. Unfortunately, it has been reported that some racers use more devious methods to spur on their camels, such as electric shocks.

Red-Deer

The Isle of Rum, off the west coast of Scotland, is home to only about 20 people. And some bloodthirsty deer. The diet of the Scottish Red Deer is the stuff of nightmares; they dine on the heads and limbs of baby seabirds. For some time, it was a mystery what was mutilating the Manx shearwater chicks of Rum, until the deer were observed chewing on them. It is believed this chilling adaptation has been adopted by the deer to make up for a mineral deficiency in their diet, the bones of the birds likely giving them some desperately needed calcium. The phenomenon remains under investigation.

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The sea otter is another adorable creature, known to bob on its back in the ocean, clutching the hands of family members to keep them from floating away. They prey primarily on shellfish, using rocks to break them open. But like many animals, the sea otter has a dark side. The males have been known to confront baby harbor seals and attack them—biting into their faces, drowning them, and raping the bodies. Indeed, the otter mating ritual is amongst the most brutal in the animal kingdom, with many female losing their lives each year.

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Global warming is a very real concern, with some environmentalists pointing toward some obviously imminent ecological disasters. Some effects are more unpredictable, such as the recent appearance of ‘grolar bears’ in the wild. In years past, the climate kept polar bears and brown bears somewhat separated; the polar bears kept far north, where they could hunt for seals from ice floes, while brown bears remained further south. But as winters have become markedly shorter and less cold, the polar bears are forced further and further from their original habitat in the pursuit of food. This has caused them to come into contact with brown bears, and actually mate. Scientists have asserted that these aren’t “chance encounters”, as both varieties of bear have an extended courtship ritual. In 2006, the first known wild grolar bear was shot in the Canadian Arctic. It is very difficult to determine how many such beasts might exist, but the continuing trend toward rising temperatures indicates many more will soon be born.

Vick

In 2007, NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kenels were raided, and dozens of pit bull terrier fighting dogs were seized. Evidence of incredible cruelty too depressing to recount was found on the scene. Both PETA and the Humane Society campaigned to have the dogs put to sleep. A public outpouring of support saved them, and a curious thing happened: when the killer Vick dogs were approached, most of them were found to be incredibly friendly. As their breed standard described, fighting dogs loved people. Of the 51 dogs rescued from Vick’s kennel, only 1 was destroyed for being too aggressive. Several are kept at sanctuaries or with experienced handlers to work through behavior issues, mostly fear due to minimal socialization. But then there are the success stories; six have earned Canine Good Citizen Awares, and some are even therapy dogs that visit cancer patients and help children practice their reading skills. Sadly enough, once Vick’s probation expired, he was able to get another dog.

Alligator Snapping Turtle

India’s Ganges River is sacred to those of the Hindu faith, with worshippers often bathing in its purifying waters. The problem is, the Ganges is actually one of the most foul and disgusting rivers in the world. In addition to industrial pollutants, it is used to dump human corpses as somewhat of a portal to heaven. Although the bodies are supposed to be burned, often the families do not have the means to properly cremate their loved ones, and partially burned carcasses are a common sight along the river’s banks. Each year, thousands of carnivorous turtles are released in the Ganges to help combat the problem. The turtles are born in captivity, and for their first year, they are fed a diet of nothing but dead flesh. This keeps them from attacking live bathers and only going after the bodies. It is estimated that a full grown turtle eats about a pound of meat a day.

Rats Drinking Milk

Nearly every big city in the world has its issue with rats, but the monsters that run the streets of Tehran are another thing entirely. The city is under siege from enormous sewer rats, some of which weigh over ten pounds. According to city council environment adviser Ismail Kahram, the rats are the result of a genetic mutation stemming from exposure to radiation. He said, “They are now bigger and look different. These are changes that normally take millions of years of evolution. They have jumped from 60 grams to five kilos, and cats are now smaller than them,” Some experts disagree, but no concise explanation has been given to just where the monster rats came from. The Iranian government has grown so desperate for a solution that they have employed snipers to roam the streets at night, picking off the giant vermin.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/06/04/10-bizarre-animal-facts/

10 Creatures That Crawled Out Of Your Nightmares

[WARNING: contains images that might offend – including spiders] We’ve all woken up in a cold sweat. We’ve all tossed and turned to escape the monsters roaming our worst dreams. Our vivid imaginations all but come to life at night, many times displaying images so frightening and so disturbing, that upon waking to find it was a dream, we fear going back to sleep. Waking up is the only solace we may get from the parade of freaks in our heads.

Or, that’s what we thought, anyway.

Here are ten real animals, so dangerous, disturbing, or at the least, butt-ugly, that may have inspired the occasional bad dream. The true nightmare, however, would be to wake with one of monsters sitting on your chest. Sleep well!

We’ll start with perhaps the least harmless. A deep sea scavenger that puts your local harmless wood lice to shame, these bottom-feeding scavengers can reach up to around a foot in length. Close your eyes and imagine sitting in the garden, playing with the potato bugs, when this thing gets jealous and comes hurtling out of the bushes for its turn. An impossible scenario, considering the isopods are deep-sea kinda guys, but you can see why a hyper-sized version of the only bug cute enough to handle is nightmare material. Plus did you see the way they ravaged that tuna in the clip?

Aww, that looks like a little weevil! Why is it on the list? Chemical warfare. This little beetle is about as cute as a beetle can be, and the largest ones are tiny at best. Nightmare material? Hardly. But it isn’t called the bombardier beetle for nothing. When it is threatened, the beetle aims its convenient butt-nozzle at its attacker, and instantly makes them regret their choice of dinner. At the end of their abdomen, two separate chambers store hydroquinone and hydrogen-peroxide. When it is threatened, the beetle contracts the chambers, combining the two materials which violently react and produce a spray roughly the same temperature as the boiling point of water. The video speaks for itself.

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It would have been too easy to include any number of squid, but I think it was about time for the giant octopus to get some recognition. Normally shy by nature, the octopus can be deadly when it wants to be, as evidenced by this somewhat over-dramatic video. But the main source of nightmare material is the size. While 33 pounds doesn’t sound too bad, a 14-foot arm span just sounds terrible. I won’t go on about the venomous beak.

Naturally at least one enormous snake had to make the list. It isn’t the longest snake, but at 20 feet and 550 pounds, it’s the biggest. The wetlands-dwelling serpents regularly make lunch out of jaguars and caimans. Humans tend to be a bit too big for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but it isn’t unheard of. Keep the children close in South America.

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Oh! Cruel joke on my part! I went with the much lesser known scientific name, so you arachnophobic slow-scrollers would run head on into the picture of… The camel spider. While the first spider on our list (yeah, FIRST) isn’t actually technically a spider, you cringed anyway. So did I. Camel spiders belong to a distinct separate order, like (but not the same as) scorpions and harvesters. While many different species actually inhabit territories all over the world (including Australia), the most well-known remains the desert dwellers (they can also be found in grasslands or forest habitats). Many urban legends exist, vastly exaggerating all qualities of these monsters. You would be one of the (un)lucky few who have ever witnessed a specimen over 3 inches if you were to see such a thing. But, leg spans can reach up 5 inches. Other myths are that they numb humans and eat part of them while they sleep, disembowel camels, scream or squeal, and leap through the air. All false. Although, the creatures have been known to hit up to 10 miles per hour.

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You are walking along a beautiful beach, shin-deep in the foamy, churning waves. You can feel the algae-covered stones beneath your feet. You step around the larger ones onto the smaller ones, feeling them with your bare toes. All of a sudden, you feel a sting on the bottom of your foot. You yelp in pain, run out of the water, and look at the small puncture wound on the bottom of your foot. The neurotoxin from the world’s most venomous fish seeps into your body, and the countdown commences. You must seek help immediately, or else you will face death. The fish, disguised convincingly like a rock, goes about its business, flustered at most by the intrusion. You run to get help, trying not to step on the wound caused by the fish’s poisonous spur on its backbone.

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This fairly common jellyfish isn’t really too bad overall. It varies in size, its sting is very painful but rarely fatal (although it may leave a nasty burn), and that is just about that. Generally speaking, it is not the best contender for a list of nightmarish creatures but the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish has been known to reach enormous sizes. The bell of the Jellyfish can reach up to 8 feet in diameter, and the tentacles may trail up to 100 feet! Now visualize yourself diving in the vast open ocean with one of these suckers for company.

Blackmamba

Black Mamba enjoys sunning himself, eating rodents and birds, and fighting off elephants. This serpent can exceed 8 ft. in length. As far as venomous snakes go, Black Mambas are beaten only by the 16 ft. achieved by the King Cobra. But why is the Black Mamba on here, and not the cobra? Well, every snake will run when it can, and attack when it’s cornered. Except the Black Mamba. It usually runs, but when it is startled, its knee-jerk reaction is to bite first, then run, even if it had plenty of time to slither away. Also, it has been known, when pursued, to just get sick of running and turn around to face its attacker. These snakes can also slither at speeds of up to 12 mph, and a single bite is enough to kill 20-25 grown men.

Those who have heard of the Honey Badger know very well why it is on the list. For those who don’t know, allow me to tell you. First of all, I know. “Honey badger”? On this list? Doesn’t sound all that bad. Truthfully, it kind of sounds like an animal I wouldn’t mind having as a pet. I think I could probably feed it potato chips through the hole in my screen door. Well, don’t. Not in you value your fingers. Honey badgers are the most aggressive animals alive. They will consume venomous snakes, stand up against elephants, and eat honey straight out of the hive while being swarmed by bees. And African bees are the source of the ultra-aggressive killer bees known to terrorize the Western Hemisphere. They will quickly devise their enemies’ weakest points and relentlessly attack it (i.e. the gonads on a human male). I’ll send everyone of with a quote directly from Wikipedia:

In a 2002 National Geographic documentary titled “Snake killers: Honey badgers of the Kalahari”, a badger named Kleinman was documented stealing a meal out of a puff adder’s mouth and casually eating the meal in front of the hissing snake. After the meal, Kleinman began to hunt the puff adder, the species being one of the badger’s preferred venomous snakes. He managed to kill the snake and began eating it, but then collapsed on the dead snake as he had been bitten during the struggle. After about two hours he surprisingly awoke. Once his paralysis had subsided, the badger continued with his meal and then resumed his journey.

The video above, starting at 2:28, is the video of the story from Wikipedia. It really is amazing. In short, if you gather nothing else from this list, remember this: don’t mess with a honey badger.

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Oh, Australia, what beautiful, majestic creatures you have. And by beautiful majestic creatures, I mean marsupials, venomous snakes, and the God-awful Sydney Funnel Web Spider. Incredibly aggressive, dark colored and glossy, with killer huge fangs and nature’s worst attitude, getting bitten by one of these things should be on your “Things to Never do Ever” list. The spiders dig tunnels or take up residence in trees, creating tunnels with trapdoors and trip lines so they know when to swing open the door.

The male spiders wander and are attracted to water. They can survive being stuck in the pool for up to 24 hours! Approaching one, or God forbid, attempting to handle one is a very excellent way to get bitten. They bite multiple times, nearly always delivering full envenomation, and will not let go. They must be grabbed and removed, as trying to shake them off usually isn’t enough to loosen the grip of their gigantic fangs. They have what is called atraxotoxin, which is highly toxic to primates. Humans are primates. I’m thoroughly convinced that if there is a Hell, one of it’s gates, or at least a fire exit, opens in Sydney, Australia.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2010/01/17/10-creatures-that-crawled-out-of-your-nightmares/

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

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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

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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

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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.

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<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.

Hoopoe

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-Adult-1

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!

Species-Glaucidium-Brasilianum-2

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.

Tsetse-Fly

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.

Africanbee1[1]

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.

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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.

Blackwidowspider3

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.

800Px-Dorylus

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.

Ant

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”):

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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.

Cymothoa-Exigua-Insect-Parasite-Eats-Fish-Tongue

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!

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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.

Trichomonas Gallinae Gul Knop

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)).

Hornet

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!

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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)!

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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.

Chicken

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Racoon

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.

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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/