Sunday, 27 February 2011

10 Surprisingly Lethal Animals

Everyone knows cobras, sharks and lions are k*llers. But there are plenty of other animals that are just as dangerous as the usual suspects. We’ve found some rather surprising, not to mention frightening, species that if bothered, can k*ll humans. Whether it’s their bite, sting or strong limbs, these animals are some of the most lethal in the world, so read on to find out which wild things not to mess with.

Bottlenose Dolphin

01-Bottlenose-Dolphin

Swimming with dolphins is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You might think differently though, if you knew they could k*ll. Scientists believe male bottlenose dolphins, which live in shallow waters around the world, might have been incited to attack young girls because of the strong hormones they release. The sometimes 12-foot-long animals attack prey such as porpoises by using their beaks as clubs and their sharp teeth to slash their v*ctims.

Stingray

02-Sting-Ray-

Everyone knew to be careful around these swimmers, but few realized the seriousness of a stingray attack until “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin was k*lled in 2006. The stingray's barbed tail only delivers mild venom, so when stabbed, most people (who usually step on the animal) only feel pain. But those who have been k*lled either had infected wounds or, as in Irwin's case, were stabbed in their vital organs.

Slow Loris

03-Slow-Loris

Don't let the big eyes and cute hands trick you. Hailing from southern Asia, this small primate emits toxins from its elbows, making it one of the only poisonous mammals in the world. The slow loris takes the toxin in its mouth as it gets ready to bite or licks its fur to deter attack. In humans, the poison may result in de*th due to anaphylactic shock.

Cassowary

04-Cassowary

Found in the rain forests of Australia and New Guinea, this large ostrich-like creature can get pretty aggressive when someone or something invades its territory. If attacked, you probably couldn't outrun it because of its speed and leaping ability, but it’s the cassowary's claws, which it uses to disembowel its v*ctims, that are so dangerous. In the wild, the birds seem to keep to themselves, but in high-stress situations, such as zoos where they are constantly being bothered, they get extremely feisty.

Blue-Ringed Octopus

05-Blue-Ringed-Octopus

If stepped on, these small creatures, found in the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Australia, may bite. And their poison, which contains maculotoxin as well as tetrodotoxin and has no antivenin, will result in almost instant de*th. If artificial respiration is done quickly after the att*ck, de*th can be prevented, but the treatment has to be done immediately—and artificial respiration continued for as long as 24 hours.

Poison Dart Frog

06-Poison-Dart-Frog

Although this amphibian may look bright and cheery, it’s another one of the most poisonous creatures around. Hailing from the Pacific lowlands of Colombia, this endangered animal got the name “dart frog” from the Amerindians’ tradition of dipping the tips of blowdarts in the poison it secretes. While these frogs haven't been known to directly k*ll humans, the golden poison frog remains the most de*dly, containing enough poison to k*ll 10 to 20 men.

Giant Anteater

07-Giant-Anteater

Judging by what they eat, you wouldn’t think they could cause any harm, but this mammal has seriously sharp four-inch claws that can k*ll a human with one swipe. Hailing from Central and South America, they are quite calm unless their territory is invaded. When threatened, giant anteaters can hold their own against the fiercest predators, including pumas and jaguars, and often end up winning the battle.

Leopard Seal

08-Leopard-Seal

Seals may look adorable, but don’t let their cute faces fool you. Leopard seals are predators at the top of the food chain in the Antarctic, and have been said to actually hunt humans. Their first choice is penguins, but they have exceptionally strong jaws and unusually long teeth, so their bite can be de*dly.

Pufferfish

09-Pufferfish

There’s no way in the world a fish as cute as this could do much harm, right? Wrong! As the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world, this fish, which hails from oceans all along the equator, contains tetrodotoxin, a poison that is de*dly to humans. There’s no cure for this fish's poison, which paralyzes the diaphragm, resulting in suffocation.

Cone Snail

10-Cone-Snail

They may look harmless, but these Indo-Pacific natives contain venom that paralyzes instantlyand may even lead to de*th. The animal inserts its venom into its prey using a harpoon-like tooth, which doesn’t sting because the venom has a paink*lling agent. Unfortunately, there is still no antivenin for cone snail bites, and the geographic cone snail remains the most venomous of the 500 species.

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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Just like mum! Cheetah cubs pictured climbing trees at Masai Mara safari camp

Still covered in their baby fluff and balancing on legs that seem too long for their bodies, these young cubs look to be a long way from joining the ranks of adult cheetahs. But that doesn't stop them wanting to be just like mum.

Spotted outside the Kicheche Camp in Kenya's Masai Mara, the six balls of fledgling fur attempt to follow their mother up an acacia tree as she looks out over the plains.

cheetah cubs

And she has every reason to be watchful. While the cheetah is the fastest mammal on the planet, the initial months of the average cub's existence are fraught with danger. The animal relies on its speed for survival as well as sustenance - and the first few weeks of life, when cubs lack the power that will make them lethal predators once they reach adulthood, are extremely difficult.

Around 90 per cent of cheetahs are killed during this time, their size and diminutive stature leaving them vulnerable to attack from larger African predators, including lions, hyenas and leopards.

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The species is deemed to be endangered. Estimates suggest some 12,500 cheetahs are alive in the wild, spread across 25 African countries. Namibia has the densest population - the southern African state is believed to be home to around 2500 of the cats.

Still, this sibling sextet does not seem to be doing too badly, as these exclusive photos show - even if the feline art of climbing a tree seems to come easier to some than it does to others.

cheetah cubs 03

While one youngster makes it halfway up the trunk, finds a crook in a branch - and refuses to give up his hard-won spot - another cuts his losses and springs back to the ground. Meanwhile, what appears to be the smallest club waits contentedly below the tree, showing no concern about trying to keep up with his adventurous siblings, preferring the view from ground level.

cheetah cubs 04 cheetah cubs 05

Another, meanwhile, makes it all the way to the top of the tree, finding the position furthest removed from potential threat - but also risks the wrath of mum by placing himself right under her feet as she continues her lonely sentry role.

Although the cubs look ungainly here, cheetahs are among the most agile creatures on earth, able to reach speeds of up to 75 miles per hour - faster than the UK speed limit, and any other land animal. In peak condition, they can accelerate from a standing start to 60 miles per hour in three seconds.

cheetah cubs 06 cheetah cubs 07

They are also among the most elusive of the wild big cats - and can be particularly tricky to spot when they are protecting their young. Moreover, they are rarely seen climbing trees.

But lucky guests at the luxury tented Kicheche Camp, on the borders of the Masai Mara Reserve, were treated to this rare display earlier this month, as the cubs took advantage of their mum's rare foray into the branches to have a go at scampering up and down the acacia themselves.

cheetah cubs 08

"Cheetahs seldom climb trees, leaving clambering to leopards with their sharper claws," explains Kicheche's Paul Goldstein, who took the images. "But for youngsters of three months, acacia trees are leisure centres, and these six lost little time in frolicking up and down its trunk.

cheetah cubs 09

"But the mother has a worrying time ahead of her. Bringing up a brood of cheetah cubs is one of the toughest tasks on the plains. And seldom successful."This mother had her brood in Tanzania, but as soon as I had a report that she had left the Serengeti and come across the border into the Mara, I immediately headed down there.

"For several days we found them early, and the guests I was guiding were astonished by their antics. As was I. We saw them crossing rivers and clambering over termite mounds - but this was the high point, literally.

"Mother would never normally climb an acacia, but she was very hungry - her concave belly shows that - and she needed an elevated 'view to a kill.'"Sadly, I think the mum will have to abandon them early, as there are just too many mouths to feed."That said - although one should not get attached to animals, it is hard not to. And last week I learned that they were all still alive. Which is frankly astonishing." For more information on Kicheche Mara Camp

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Friday, 25 February 2011

6 Animals Humanity Accidentally Made Way Scarier

6 Animals Humanity Accidentally Made Way Scarier

On any given day, we might get food poisoning from the entire roast chicken we ate for lunch, catch bird flu from the bi-weekly cockfight we attend behind the Circle K, or crash our car while swerving to hit some smug-ass deer, taunting us from the roadside with his arrogant beauty. There are plenty of dangers that can befall humanity by virtue of our own *sshole behaviors, but none that hold a candle to these:

6. Jellyfish

jellfish

Jellyfish are creepy looking, kind of dangerous, and unlike their fellow marine k*ller, the shark, they don't even taste that good. Which is why it's kind of a bummer that they're now poised to take over two-thirds of planet Earth.

jellfish 01

In 2006 and 2010, huge swarms of jellyfish invaded the beaches of Spain, stinging tens of thousands of swimmers. In some places, these occupying jellyfish appeared in concentrations of up to ten per square meter. These swarms are called "jellyfish blooms," and they're popping up in oceans worldwide like cam chat-room ads on free p*rn sites. Hawaii and Ireland were similarly swarmed in 2007, Israel and France in 2008, and Tunisia and Italy in 2009.

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Japan has also been attacked by a (greater-than-usual) number of giant tentacle monsters, with the 6-feet-long venomous Nomura jellyfish showing up in increasing numbers in the surrounding waters.

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Oh, and did we mention that one of the species exploding in population is the box jellyfish, a variety previously found in the waters off northern Australia? And that many of these things possess 6-8 foot long tentacles covered in ven*m that can k*ll a human in three minutes?.

What the hell did we do?

Three things: First, we're dumping massive amounts of agricultural waste into the ocean. The fertilizers present in that waste are designed to increase plant growth, but they'll do their job on algae just fine instead. That algae, in turn, feeds microzooplankton, which, along with a glass of orange juice and an inspirational speech from Tony the Tiger, are a big part of any jellyfish's balanced breakfast.

jellfish 03

Second, the ocean in general has gotten warmer. Whether you want to chalk that up to global warming or angry wizards, the temperature has risen recently, and for unknown reasons that makes jellyfish both reproduce more and swim closer to the beaches. This particularly applies to tropical jellyfish -- you know, like that three-minute-de*th tentacle kind from earlier? That's what's waiting for you out in those clear blue waters, just humping and murd*ring up a storm, waiting for your children to swim on out and join the pois*n-*rgy.

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Finally, we ate too much Omega-3. Overfishing has triggered the jellyfish uprising by k*lling off huge amounts of the tuna, sharks and turtles that usually prey on jellyfish and their eggs. So, on the plus side: Those are some awesomely low triglycerides you've got up in your blood! On the downside: Gelatinous p*ison monsters from the deep. Hey, you knew staying healthy was going to require some sacr*fices. It's just that in this case, those sacr*fices happen to be of the human variety.

5. Cougars

Cougars

In the hundred years leading up to 1990, there were 53 recorded cougar att*cks on humans in North America, only ten of which were fatal. From 1991 to 2004, there were 49 att*cks and ten more de*ths. That's almost a sevenfold increase in human de*th. Other mountain lion-related problems, like pet-k*lling, have also increased, even in heavily-populated city areas which one would hopefully assume are relatively free of giant man-eat*ng cats.

39044

What the hell did we do?

The cougar's status in the species hierarchy has changed significantly over the years. Where once you could get a bounty for k*lling one, h*nting is now strictly controlled, or in the case of California, outlawed altogether. California, coincidentally enough, is also the place that's experienced that sixteen-fold increase in att*cks over the last 25 years. We don't want to pass judgment on complicated environmental issues or anything, California, but it's probably safe to assume the increased cougar maulings are not because they disapprove of your state's irresponsible handling of its recent budget issues.

39045

According to some researchers, mankind's cessation of anti-cougar activities has caused the cats to lose their fear of humanity. And really, we shouldn't need researchers to tell us that, if we don't show large predators we pose at least some kind of threat, they're going to learn to think of us as soft, pink, vertical burr*tos ripe for the sn*cking.

39046

Also not helping: The cougars that do get h*nted these days are most likely to be adult males, since their size makes them the most impressive trophies. This leaves their vacated territory open to the equivalent of cougar teenagers, who are most into experimenting with human pr*y (and maybe the hard dr*gs too, depending on how sheltered their upbringing was).

Unfortunately, the solution to this problem is far from simple, since "Sh*ot more cats, and when you do, by god, aim for the kittens!" is not exactly a catchy rallying cry.

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4. Bees

Beer

In the last 50 years or so, a new type of bee has come onto the scene: The Africanized or "k*ller" bee has caused eight confirmed de*ths since 1990 in the US, and around 1000 in all of North and South America. Incidents of non-fatal, but certainly very p*inful att*cks have also been on the rise. While the number of "popsicles for owies" have virtually skyr*cketed.

39048

K*ller bees are more aggr*ssive towards humans, they inflict 10 times as many stings on average, their hives have a larger number of "guard" bees on alert for any perceived threat, and when they do perceive a threat, they'll send out ten thousand or so bees to swarm rather than the usual 100 or so. So, what? Just don't go out uppercutting beehives, no matter how boring the weekend gets, and you'll be fine, right? Nope: The swarms can be triggered by virtually anything, like walking too close to the hive, or even the buzzing of lawnmowers and leafblowers.

39049

And in case you're still not afraid, possibly charmed by their adorable little striped bodies -- like they're all wearing tiny Charlie Brown sweaters -- consider this: They're so blo*dth*rsty that, if you use the old "jump into water to escape" tactic, they will not leave, but instead simply hover at the surface, waiting for you to come up for air so they can sting your god d*mn face to de*th. As a great man once said: "How the hell do they know how to do that? They're f*cking animals!" (Yes, Bill Paxton from Aliens does too count as a "great man.")

39050

What the hell did we do?

In 1957, a beekeeper in Brazil bred domesticated European honey bees with their distant cousin, the African bee, which had developed in a wilder environment where brutal defense tactics were necessary. When these hybrids inevitably escaped, the Brazilian government actually labeled the beekeeper a "m*d scientist" and insinuated that he deliberately released them, presumably so he could take over the world while shouting bee-based puns from atop his black and yellow-striped battle blimp.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, the truth is not nearly as interesting: The guy was just looking for a way to make European bees flourish in a warmer, tropical environment, and got careless. But regardless of motive, the bees escaped, and once released, began to mate with other native bee species. Despite massive efforts to stop them, the killer bee invasion spread up through Central America at a rate of 200 miles per year, and eventually made its way into the southern half of the United States. And they are still moving North because we just plain don't know how to f*cking stop them.

39051

3. Wolves

Wolwes

Wolves have gotten a bad rap where pop-culture is concerned: They're constantly menacing peasants or participating in rape met*phors involving young girls visiting elderly relatives. But despite this age-old slander, not a single wolf-related fat*lity was recorded in the entire 20th century for all of North America. Even non-fatal att*cks happened less than once a year.

39052

But just as humanity started changing its tune and embracing our awesome wolf brothers -- depicting them as s*xy, caveman-faced hunks in Twilight, buying our three-wolf shirts, and teaching them to high five on command -- everything changed. After 100 years of peace, there have been two f*tal wolf att*cks in the last decade. Less-f*tal skirmishes are also getting more frequent, as well as att*cks on livestock and pets.

What the hell did we do?

Two things lie behind the twenty-first century's Rise of the Wolves (as our grandchildren will surely call it, in hushed whispers, lest the Great Pack hear them and sniff out their hiding caves).

39053

The first is habituation, which is the same problem as the cougars, essentially. We have taught them to be unafraid; they think of us as free me*ls in pants. The other reason is the increase in the number of wolf hybrids. There are dog/wolf mixes being currently and deliberately bred by people who decided that owning a dog didn't make them feel masculine enough. The only problem being that these hybrids have a tendency to combine h*nting instincts with people-friendliness, which in turn leads to a lot of people in Tapout shirts getting m*uled.

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But there's a far more dangerous hybrid out there: In 20th century North America, hunting and deforestation in the east almost completely k*lled off the wolf population .This allowed the more adaptable coyote to spread eastwards in their place.

Eventually, the wolves and coyotes started falling in love -- nudging deer eyeballs adorably at one another, maybe inadvertently sucking down different ends of the same tendon and having their blo*dy muzzles meet in the middle -- and then came all the little hybrid pups being delivered by the storks, who were, of course, mauled to de*th upon landing. Because these hybrids are not only more numerous than wolves, but are actually more dangerous than their purebred counterparts. They're called coywolves (a portmanteau of coyote and wolf) and like the dog hybrids, they combine the wolf's tendency towards pack hunting and predation with the coyote's lack of shyness around humans.

39054

Unlike the dog hybrids, however, there's nothing rare or exotic about them: The coywolves have seen a massive population boom in the Northeast, replenishing the dwindling wolf numbers and then some. So, because we hunted them nearly to ext*nction, the wolves have essentially formed an alliance with the coyotes and birthed a whole new creature...and it is not afraid of us. In the words of Roland Kays, Curator of Mammals at the New York State Museum: "We drove this species from the area and it...came back in another form." We can only assume he was abruptly pulled away, screaming, before he could append "for vengeance" to that statement.

2. Elephants

Elephant

Humans have long considered elephants our adorable phallic-faced friends. We pet them in zoos, ride on them on vacation, and draw cartoons about them discovering the inner power within themselves. For creatures their size and overall power, elephants are pretty chill, really.

But not anymore.

Elephant att*cks on humans have dramatically increased in the last couple of decades, and elephant-related de*ths now number in the hundreds every year.

39057

What the hell did we do?

In the wild, elephants grow up inside an intricate social structure. Much like humans, elephant children stick with their parents for a long time, and even when they're fully grown, they communicate with each other almost constantly. They even mourn their de*d. This complicated structure basically serves to civilize the young elephants. It teaches them how to be reasonable, happy, productive members of society.

That is, unless humans k*ll the elephant's entire family, leaving him a broken shell of an elephant with nothing to lose.

39058

Po*ching, h*nting, and other general dickhe*d beh*vior have messed up the social structure of elephant culture so much that it has begun to break down altogether. Gangs of roving elephant berserkers now haunt Africa and India, att*cking and terr*rizing the species that k*lled their families...which is us.

That's right: Elephants are now basically a species-wide Batman.

39038

...except instead of just hunting down human crim*nals, they attack villages, crops, cars, and pretty much anything else that gets in their way. We're not just talking trampling de*ths, or goring when cornered, or any other behavior that can be chalked up to misunderstanding: Elephants are actually ambushing villages in the night, p*nning people down, and sav*gely st*bbing them to de*th with their tusks, not stopping until a compassionate and understanding elephant leader drags them away while whispering "it's over, Wrinkles, it's over. He's de*d. It's done, man. It's done."

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1. Catfish

catfish

In the last three decades, three people have been k*lled in the Great Kali River, which forms part of the border between Nepal and Northern India. It's strange, because crocodiles and other major aquatic predators are unknown in the area, and besides that, witnesses described the unfortunate vict*ms being dragged underwater by something that looked like an "elongated pig," never to be seen again.

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But alas, scrap your design sketches for Pig-Shark: The River Stalker, because we already know the killer: Catfish. Yep, the fish with the cute whisker-looking things on its face that goes wel* with cornmeal. Like a Yakov Smirnoff routine come to life, the Goonch catfish native to the Great Kali river have begun eating YOU.

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What the hell did we do?

The Great Kali River is a popular resting place for bodies after Hindu fun*ral rites, in which the de*d are cremated on the river's edge. The fun*ral pyres eventually sink into the river, where they become easy meals for the local catfish. After years of nibbling on the freshly cooked corpses, the catfish have developed an insatiable taste for human flesh. And that's absurd, really: If somebody p*tched that to you as the premise for a horror movie, you'd ball up their script and hurl it into the garbage, laughing -- or else give them directions to the abandoned gas station that houses the SyFy Channel headquarters.

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But it actually gets even crazier: In 2008 a British biologist managed to catch one of the creatures by luring it in with a fake f*neral pyre. His catch revealed that this diet has also allowed the already-massive Goonch catfish to increase significantly in size. But how big could a catfish possibly be? You order it in a restaurant and you're hungry again an hour later, right? These monsters often measure around six feet long and weigh over 150 pounds!

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So, there you go. Now you know what to pray for at night: That nobody starts a beach-themed f*neral home in your town, because apparently all it takes to turn the menu from Red Lobster into a stygian nightmare is your de*d grandmother's thigh meat.

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We'd like to conclude this article by saying: Buy g*ns. Lots and lots of g*ns.

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