Friday, 27 January 2012

Top 10 Amazing Animal Weapons

Did you know the most dangerous animal in the world is the human? With an arsenal of weapons and high-tech gear, we have mastered the ability to defend ourselves against most threats.

But you might be surprised to learn many animals also are capable of defending themselves without delivering a single bite. From a beetle that sprays boiling hot acid at its enemies, to a fish with shooting skills that make a rifle seem mundane, many animals are naturally equipped with impressive -- and somewhat strange -- weaponry. These creatures don't just point and shoot, but often put their whole bodies into defending their territory or family. Armor up! It's time to learn about animal warfare.

10. Humpback Whale

When one of the largest mammals of the sea is looking for a really large meal, just one or two fish won't do. The humpback whale often will gather a few of his fellow humpbacks, and employ a rather ingenious method to catch a fish buffet. The whales begin by circling a group of fish, and then they exhale a stream of air to trap the fish in a kind of net made of bubbles. This net is surprisingly strong and capable of catching fish just like a real net. Once the fish are trapped, the humpback whales take turns diving to the bottom of the net, and then quickly swim right through it with their mouths wide open, taking in a very large feast in one fell swoop. The humpbacks repeat this process until their whale-sized appetites are satisfied, making the buffet lines most people go to seem pretty benign.  

 Spitting Spider 

Spiderman uses his web-slinging powers to jump and swing from building to building, but these fantastic abilities might meet their match in those of the spitting spider. At first glance, this eight-legged crawler, with its slow gait and poor eyesight, doesn't seem like much of a threat. But looks are deceiving, as this spider has something no other arachnid has: the ability to spit a glue-like substance at his prey. The spitting spider has two stomachs, one that holds silk for web building and another that holds the sticky spit. When this predator discovers a tasty snack, it will first spit on its prey at lightening fast speeds of 1/600th of a second, which holds the victim in place while the spider delivers a killer bite.

 Whip Scorpion

The whip scorpion, named for its thin tail that resembles a leather whip, grows only to about 3 inches (18 centimeters) long and isn't nearly as dangerous as more common scorpion species. In fact, this scorpion doesn't have pinschers or venom, and its tail doesn't sting. But the whip scorpion does have something other scorpion species don't have: acid. If the whip scorpion senses danger, it will whip its tail around and deliver a stream of pungent fluid from its anal glands. While the fluid isn't poisonous, it is caustic enough to make most predators back off -- or at least hesitate -- giving the whip scorpion time to get out of Dodge.
 Whip Scorpion

Malaysian Ant
Most people are familiar with the fire ant and its painful sting, but that red insect might seem tame when you consider its cousin, the Malaysian ant. Also known as the exploding ant, this little insect really takes its job as a soldier to the extreme. The Malaysian ant is as tiny as any ordinary ant, but built to serve and protect the rest of the colony. Considered a soldier ant, its insides are packed with poisonous sacks from its head all the way down its back. When a predator appears, the ant will contract its muscles to build up the poison. Then, similar to a pressure cooker, it explodes, spraying the toxins on the threat. The predator can die from the poison, or if it's large enough to survive, it will think twice before approaching another ant in the area. But the Malaysian ant dies as well, giving its life and limbs for the greater good of the ant colony.


These black mammals with a white stripe have earned the title of world's smelliest animal, perhaps in part due to the legendary Pepé le Pew, from the long-running cartoon series, "Looney Tunes." Pepé was always portrayed with a trail of eau de reek following behind him while he chased after Penelope Pussycat, but as with most things on television, this isn't an entirely accurate depiction. According to the Humane Society of the United States, these misunderstood creatures don't naturally smell bad and only drop a stink bomb when threatened. Even then, they will give a few warning signals -- like hissing, stamping their feet, or lifting their tails in the air -- before letting their musk loose. Skunks' noxious spray can travel as far as 10 feet (3 meters), but they only have enough spray for five to six uses before they need to replenish the supply, which can take up to 10 days. While its spray isn't lethal, a skunk's stench is enough to make any predator evacuate the area, and the smell lingers for days, which can make the unfortunate recipient of the spray very uncomfortable.
Archer Fish

The archer fish is the sharp shooter of rivers, and a jet of water is its weapon. With precise aim, this fish is able to take out any insect within a few feet using nothing but water squirted from its mouth. Mostly found in Asia, the archer fish averages only 6 inches (15 centimeters) in length and has a flat body and head. Its mouth is slanted upward, which is advantageous when it jumps up to grab land-based bugs. This fish usually swims just below the water's surface, and when it spots prey that's within range, it adjusts its eyes like a scope, so the insect lines up horizontally. Then, the fish's lips just barely break the water's surface as it shoots a jet of water at the victim. This powerful water stream can reach up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) away. The archer fish almost always hits its targets with one shot, instantly killing grasshoppers, spiders and other insects. If a bug is close enough, the fish will forgo the squirting and simply leap out of the water and grab the insect with its mouth instead.
Horned Lizard

The horned lizard is equipped with so many defense tactics, it could be considered the defense secretary of all animal species. Like a chameleon, its skin color can adapt to many of nature's backgrounds, including the desert it calls home. These reptiles can even look like rocks, thanks to their coloration and horned backs. When hiding in plain sight doesn't work, its next defense is to puff up its body to make itself look bigger and less appetizing to a potential predator. If that doesn't stop an enemy in its tracks, then the horned lizard goes for the coup de gras -- squirting blood out of its eyes. In order to do this, a horned lizard restricts blood flow to the rest of its body, increasing blood pressure in the head, which ruptures vessels in its eyelids. It's able to aim the blood gusher with precision from up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) away. While the blood isn't poisonous, it does seem to confuse predators and tastes pretty bad.
Horned Lizard

Bombardier Beetle

Since beetles aren't able to fly away in a split-second like other insects, they require other tools to defend themselves against enemies. The bombardier beetle in particular is outfitted with some serious defense mechanisms, including an armored body that protects it from the elements. But it’s the boiling hot liquid sprayed from its stomach that is most effective against predators. Inside the beetle's abdomen are two chemical-filled chambers that, when combined, create an acid that heats up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) and then sprays out in an explosive manner through the abdominal wall. And if the spray isn't enough to scare off any animal, this beetle also makes a sound like a gunshot once it unleashes an acid bath on its predator.


The hagfish, found in most of the world's oceans, makes a really big mess to ward off would-be predators. When this fish is feeling stressed or senses harm, it releases a thick slime that acts as a protective coating. Once the threat is gone, the hagfish ties itself into a knot and then twists its way back out of it, scraping the slime away, or else it could suffocate on its own gunk. These little slimers only grow to be about 15 inches (40 centimeters) long and the width of a thumb, but can release up to a liter (.2 gallons) of slime in about one second, says marine biologist Douglas Fudge. Should a predatory fish decide to take its chances on this gooey creature, it would soon have regrets, since the slime oozes out of a hagfish as soon as it's bitten. The attacking fish would soon have gills full of goo and quickly choke to death.

Electric Eel

Normally, water and high voltage don't mix. But for one underwater creature, the combination is positively electrifying. Electric eels might share the same name and traits as true eels, but they're considered to be more closely related to catfish. Found throughout South America in muddy-bottomed rivers or basins, electric eels can grow to be more than 8 feet (2.5 meters) long. They are normally dark green or gray, which helps them blend in with their environment, but their most valuable asset is truly shocking. Their organs contain special cells called "electrocytes" that effectively turn them into batteries. The eels use these electric organs to sense foreign objects and smaller fish that might make a good meal. To feed, they will deliver small shocks to fish, rendering their victims paralyzed. While their prey is still alive, but unable to move, the eels will suck them up like spaghetti noodles. When they sense a threat, they can release about 600 volts of power to the predator, which knocks most enemies dead. When you consider that the average U.S. wall outlet only carries about 100 volts, it's clear that -- like many of the other creatures on this countdown -- the electric eel packs quite a punch.

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