Friday, 17 June 2011

Badass Animal of the Year Nominees:

First Entry: The Pompom Crab.

It didn't get a good start in life. The poor thing has a bit of a girly name, likes dancing and is pink and stripy. But this is a badass crustacean, because the tiny candystriped beast got kinda fed up of having a hard time and being eaten by everything else in the ocean - so he cottoned on to an awesome idea.

Why not ask someone with vicious poison to help, in return for seeing the world and some free meals? So the anemone teamed up with the crab. Alright, so the little dude looks like a cheerleader, dancing around with fluffy pink and white pompoms clutched in its cute little claws - but these "pompoms" allow the wee fella to deal venom-loaded punches to enemies and dinner... He also uses his anemones as "mops" to sweep tasty bits of food off the floor - food bits get grabbed by the sticky tentacles, and the two species share the results. Neat!

Second entry: Thaumoctopus mimicus - The Tentacled Ninja. AKA The Mimic.

This beastie so good at not being an octopus that it eluded human discovery until 1998. This is kinda handy, because the octopus's soft bodies are made of nutritious muscle, without spine or armor, and not obviously poisonous, making them desirable prey.

So he got clever. The Mimic Octopus can decide which animal to impersonate, depending on ehich predator is being a bit of an ass. For example, when he was being attacked by damselfish, he "turned into" a banded sea snake - and banded seasnakes EAT damselfish. The octopus did this by turning black and yellow, burying six of its arms in the sand, and waving its other two arms in opposite directions to look like the snake!

Other animals it can copy include the: seahorse, stingray, anemone, starfish, lionfish, crab, sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crabs, sea shells, flounders, jellyfish, and mantis shrimp. Oh, and the venomous sole. Though it is a bit of an ass when it mimics the crab - it's only doing it to get cozy with another crab with a bit of flirting. And then eat it.

Third entry: Honey Badger: The Chuck Norris of the animal world.

These are highly intelligent animals and are one of few species capable of using tools: It's been observed rolling a log and standing on it to reach a kingfisher to eat, and they also are big for teamwork with the "Honey Guide Bird". The bird points out the bees nest, the badger trashes it, they both tuck in.

I mean, that's a bit creepy, but these guys are also tireless in combat and can wear out much larger animals in physical confrontations. The skin around the neck is 6 millimetres (0.24 in) thick, an adaptation to fighting. Yes. It has armoured skin. Skin tough enough to resist several machete blows, and almost impervious to arrows and spears.

There are some insane AND TRUE stories of these badass nasties in the wild, doing mad stunts like taking dinners off lions - and then ripping the lion's testicles off when he got a bit miffed over losing the meal.

There was another well documented incident where a leopard takes a WHOLE HOUR to kill a Honey Badger. "Meh, that's not so great", you may respond but think of it like this: that a leopard is around four times the weight of a Honey Badger. Oh, and this particular Honey Badger was an old, toothless female with one blind eye.

If you haven't the time to watch the video above, here's the summary of the best bits: Badger thought "I'm hungry". Decided that food that that snake is eating looks tasty. That the PUFF ADDER was eating. So he took the food. The snake went mental, hissing and spitting but couldn't do anything about it, except accept that it had lost it's dinner.

Badger finished the adder's dinner and thought "I'm still a bit hungry." So he went off to pick on a COBRA. Yes, the snake gave as good as he got and landed some good blows, so the Honey Badger only got halfway through eating snake before collapsing from the poison. But not to die, just to sleep it off.

He picked himself up a couple of hours later and finished the rest.

Yeah. That's pretty badass.

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