#6. Snakes Have Nine Senses
A snake’s jaw is linked directly to its inner ear, allowing it to literally hear surface vibrations. Snake jawbones are so sensitive that a horned desert viper can accurately strike at a small, quiet mouse coming up behind him … in the middle of a pitch-black night. Further, their lower jawbones are separated into two halves, and the difference in timing between the vibrations received by the two sides informs the snake of the direction of its scampering prey. Snakes have high-fidelity directional hearing in their mouths.
Better yet, because snakes “smell” by “tasting” the air with their tongues, and because those tongues are typically forked, they also have incredible directional smelling. Snakes effectively smell in stereo. Finally, many varieties of snake have heat-sensing pit organs that can detect infrared light. For their relatively tiny size, these sensors are up to 10 times more sensitive than anything our technology has managed to create, and they come in several different types that all focus on different wavelengths.
But pit vipers take it a step further; they not only possess this crazy Predator-vision, but actually use the heat map to direct multiple attacks on a single target. They’ll strike their prey once, wait for the adrenaline to kick in, watch for heat spikes that show where their prey is most vulnerable, and then direct their next strikes to the weak spots. You might recognize that as the exact same tactic you use to beat video game bosses. That’s right: Pit vipers’ whole lives are basically one big round of Metal Gear Solid.
#5. Spiders Can Hear With Their Hair
C. salei accomplishes this feat by “feeling” the air around it with the sensitive hairs covering its body. They’re so finely tuned that each hair can detect the direction and pressure of the airflow to accurately time and orient the spider’s attack without the benefit of vision.
The microscopic hairs on P. gibbulus’ legs are so small that molecular forces give them insane grip. Once seized, its prey, usually other spiders, can only escape by ripping off their own limbs. See? That’s how terrifying spiders are: Even spiders are scared of them.
#4. Foxes Have a Magnetic Targeting System
#3. Dragonfly Larvae Have Projectile Jaws
It’s such an effective hunting technique that dragonfly larvae can even catch minnows, some as large as themselves.
#2. Dana Octopus Squids Use Flashbang Grenades
No, these squids have not evolved to run up to bus stops with their balls hanging out of their chinos — Japanese researchers filmed these gigantic invertebrates using their bioluminescence like a flashbang grenade. The man-sized squids will dash up to prey, splay their tentacles, and then set off a dizzying disco strobe light routine.
This sudden photonic onslaught, unleashed in the perpetual gloom and shadows of the tenebrous sea, stuns fish long enough for the tentacles to close, and boom: You’ve got yourself a squid effectively using urban warfare tactics. Sleep tight!
#1. Humpback Whales Fish With Nets
While they’re largely solitary, humpback whales do hunt in groups. When they find a school of tasty fish, the group breaks formation and encircles the prey in a deadly ring of humps. As one, the whales suddenly breathe out, and the ensuing bubbles are so thick and numerous that they form a net of force that the fish cannot swim through. Thus trapped in the bubble ring, the fish are then driven to the surface by a group of “shepherd” whales that swim up from below. Still other whales will scream at the scrambling fish. Yeah, all that beautiful, mournful singing? Turns out it’s not all about communication or mating. Some of that caterwauling is straight up banshee-style sonic warfare: The noise disorients and even stuns fish, driving them further into the trap. Finally, when all the fish have been corralled, herded, and shrieked into a stupor, the entire group of humpbacks will bull rush the school from below, swallowing thousands of fish in a single gulp.