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Badass Weapons Of Nature: Mantis Shrimp

In April 1998, a shrimp by the name of Tyson punched through the quarter-inch-thick glass of his cell and attempted an escape. He was promptly caught and had to be sent to a more secure facility. Unlike his boxing counterpart, Tyson was merely 10 centimetres in length.
Mantis shrimp are well-known for their “fists of fury” – officially the fastest punch in the natural world.

Their weapons of choice are their clubs that can be retracted and folded under their head. Using a remarkable energy-storage system – much like the cocking mechanism of a gun combined with a spring – the mantis shrimp can unleash its rounded, stubby claws at a speed of 80km/h to hit its target in 0.003 seconds. This is an amazing feat given that it happens underwater, where the water puts up a significantly higher resistance compared to air. The acceleration needed to produce this awesome punch is 10,000 times the force of gravity (similar to a bullet). In simpler words, researchers could not film using high-speed cameras and needed to borrow a super high-speed camera just to see the punch happen. 

However, the surprises do not end here. Researchers soon found that each strike by the mantis shrimp not only inflicted heavy physical damage, but the sheer speed of the punch created cavitation (implosion of bubbles). Much like the pistol shrimp, this cavitation releases massive amounts of light and heat energy. This shockwave happens immediately after the punch, essentially resulting in the target receiving a deadly one-two hit combo which instantly knocks it out (or disintegrated). 

The force of the mantis shrimp’s punch can easily penetrate the hard shell of most crustaceans in the ocean, meaning no creature is safe. Mantis shrimps have also been observed beating up fish and octopi – and succeeding.

Not only does the mantis shrimp have the most powerful strike, it also has one of the most sophisticated eyes in nature and is extremely agile. This, combined with the shrimp’s cunning nature makes it the perfect hunter. It tends to ambush prey and swiftly knocks it out before it knows what hit it. If the one-hit KO fails, the mantis shrimp uses its agility to hit the foe and quickly swim away, then hit again from the other side until the foe is crushed.

Lastly, the shrimp described above is actually one type of mantis shrimp called a smasher. There is another subtype called spearer with claws modified into sharp spears that can be thrusted with the same force as the smasher’s clubs.

The only adequate metaphor to describe this awesome creature would be a Mike Tyson punching as hard as he can, in his prime, while his fist is attached to a meteor entering the atmosphere.

(Image source:

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Badass Weapons Of Nature: Bombardier Beetle

The bombardier beetle, or Brachymus creptians, has a “machine gun”. When attacked, it makes an explosive sound and spouts smoke.
This beetle combines chemicals from two separate glands to make the smoke. 
The first gland produces a solution of 25% hydrogen peroxide and 10% hydroquinone, while the second gland produces peroxidase, an enzyme that catalyses the reaction. When these solutions are combined and heated to 100°C, smoke and nitric acid vapour is produced and explosively released.

If you put your hand close to a bombardier beetle, it will rapidly release a scalding, noxious, red vapour. This nitric acid will cause blisters on afflicted skin.
Bombardier beetles also know how to aim the tip of its abdomen to target an enemy. Via this method, it can hit a target a few centimetres away. Even if it misses, the explosive sound will scare away any predator. 
Normally, bombardier beetles store enough chemicals for three or four shots. However, some entomologists have found that some species can fire up to 24 times in rapid succession if provoked.

As these beetles are a bright orange and silver-blue colour, they are very noticeable. They act as if they do not care if they are seen, as they are equipped with an effective cannon. Generally, beetles with a colourful coat have a unique, ingenious defensive mechanism to ward off curious animals and insects.
Despite this, rats that know that the beetle loves to use this “ingenious defensive mechanism” quickly grab the beetle and plant its abdomen in the ground. After attacking it continuously while in the ground to exhaust the beetle’s rounds, the rat bites off the head first.

(from the Encyclopaedia of Relative and Absolute Knowledge by Bernard Werber)

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Badass Weapons Of Nature: Pistol Shrimp

A gun is, without a doubt, a manmade object. It is an invention that has existed less than a thousand years in history. However, there is an animal that has been using firearms to hunt prey for a significantly longer period of time than mankind has.
The pistol shrimp is well known for its disproportionately large claw, with the other claw being much smaller like a normal shrimp. The massive claw is what is called the “pistol” and it is the weapon of choice for the shrimp.

When a pistol shrimp identifies a target, it swiftly takes aim with the claw and snaps it shut with enough force to create a bubble jet reaching a speed of almost 100km/h. Not only are bubbles produced, but the pressure wave created by the cavitation (the effect of a bubble imploding and generating energy) reaches a sound level of 218dB – which is about 100,000,000 times larger than a gunshot, or 10,000 times larger than a rocket launch. Furthermore, the energy is also released as light and heat, generating a temperature as hot as 4700°C (for comparison, the surface temperature of the sun is 5500°C).
The combination of the bubble jet, pressure wave and heat energy instantly stuns the target and the pistol shrimp proceeds to devour its prey.

Yes, the pistol shrimp has mastered a skill that humans can only dream of in comics such as the Incredible Hulk’s Thunderclap, or in games such as Guile’s Sonic Boom (from Street Fighter). It has also mastered the skill to the level of an effective ultimate move that is reliable as a hunting tool. In fact, it is quite possibly the closest any animal on Earth has gotten to an actual beam weapon.

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Badass Weapons Of Nature: Long-tailed Weasel

Long-tailed weasels are ferocious predators found in North America that likes to stalk its prey and pounce it with lightning speed. With small prey such as mice, the weasel will wrap its long body around the prey and then crush the head with a strong bite. As the weasel is very slender and sleek, it can easily dig into burrows to hunt hiding animals by crushing its skull, or to add variety, ripping out the windpipe.

Although it usually preys on small rodents, the long-tailed weasel is also known to fearlessly attack much larger animals such as birds and rabbits. As wild rabbits tend to be bulkier (sometimes even ten times larger) than the weasel, it cannot use its characteristic hunting style. To overcome this difficulty, these weasels have developed a strange behaviour that zoologists have labelled the Weasel War Dance. The War Dance (NB: two videos on what it looks like) is a chaotic set of movements where the weasel runs left and right frantically, jumping and flipping upside-down and almost appearing insane. This type of behaviour is observed in other species of weasels and ferrets when they are excited, but few use it as a hunting tool.

It has been observed that when the long-tailed weasel performs a War Dance in front of a rabbit, the rabbit becomes dazed and enters a trance-like state. It is possible that the chaotic and confusing movements disorient the rabbit. Once the rabbit has been disabled, the weasel promptly jumps on the rabbit’s back and delivers a powerful bite to the back of the neck, instantly killing the rabbit.
Wild weasels and stoats practise this skill by playfully ambushing each other when they are young.

Long-tailed weasels, despite their cute appearance, are notorious for their vicious temper. Being a carnivore that prefers fresh meat, it actively hunts and collects food. Despite seeking fresh food, the weasel also exhibits a curious behaviour of storing carrions, which is often only eaten in times of food shortages. This behaviour leads to the weasel going on killing sprees just because they can. Long-tailed weasels have also been observed lapping up blood from the wounds they inflict, and enjoys making their nest from the fur of their victims.

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Badass Weapons Of Nature: Roadrunner

Roadrunners are medium-sized birds that grow to about 60cm and found in desert environments. They prefer walking or running (top speed 27km/h) to flying and have been portrayed as Road Runner in Looney Toons. In the cartoon, the bird is shown as a witty, intelligent bird that easily runs away from its predator. In real life, the roadrunner is a much more formidable animal.

Although it usually feeds on lizards and insects, roadrunners also enjoy feasting on rattlesnakes. Thanks to its quick speed, the thin bird can swiftly dig its beak into the rattlesnake before it can retaliate with its venomous bite. What happens next is quite surprising.
With its prey secured on its beak, the roadrunner promptly begins whipping its head around, bashing the snake to the ground in a circular motion. This whip-like attack causes the snake to lose consciousness or even die from the sheer impact and rotational force, essentially becoming tenderised. This deadly move has been named by ornithologists as the Centrifugal Slam. The roadrunner does this until it is certain the snake cannot attack back, then swallows it whole. As snakes tend to be longer than the bird, roadrunners are often found running around the desert with a long piece of tail dangling from its beak, the head being slowly digested in the bird’s stomach. 

Roadrunners are also known to eat horned lizards (spiked lizard that shoots blood from its eyes to deter predators), tarantula hawk wasps (giant wasp that defeats tarantulas to lay eggs inside it, with no other known predators) and even flying birds. As mentioned before, roadrunners do not fly unless in an emergency. So to hunt flying birds, they simply run, jump and Centrifugal Slam the living daylight out of the unfortunate prey.