The animal kingdom is full of dumbos. We’ve all gotten a kick out of a bird flying into a window or a cat hissing at its own reflection. But, some animals continue to amaze us with their intelligence and ingenuity. Unfortunately, not all of these geniuses are good guys like Marvel’s Professor X. Coming up are 20 of the most evil animal geniuses.
20. Allomerus Ants
These ants look like your typical garden ant. Each one sports six legs, two antennae, and a hard exoskeleton. Unlike your typical picnic crasher, however, these ants are kind of like Jigsaw from saw, in insect form.
Using a specially-cultivated fungus and carefully-selected plant fibers, these ants weave a series of hollow pockets. They then wait, mandibles extended, for some poor sap to walk by. After trapping prey in their beartrap-like jaws, they then secrete pheromones to summon up buddies. The mob of ants then grab each of the prey’s flailing limbs and slowly pull it apart.
People tend to see parrots as one of two things: super smart and beautiful, or pirate accomplices. The Kea, a species of large parrot native to New Zealand, is more like a vampire. Best known for their intensive curiosity, these parrots make a habit of stealing small items, shattering mirrors, and nibbling on unguarded food. There are rumors that one even flew off with one tourist’s passport.
While that never-ending curiosity makes them more chaotic than evil, these parrots also have another weird habit: ripping bits of flesh off of living sheep.
Somewhere along the way, these birds developed a taste for animal fat. Knowing that sheep are unable to defend themselves, these parrots often land on their backs and tear out bloody bits of flesh.
18. Male Cuttlefish
When it comes to scoring babes and fighting off territorial boyfriends, some men are at a distinct disadvantage. This is true not just for humans but for male cuttlefish as well. These cunning cephalopods have found a unique workaround. Smaller, less attractive male cuttlefishes are evil animal geniuses. They put their camouflage abilities to good use when hunting down a potential mate.
Taking a page from Two Face’s book, they insert themselves between mating cuttlefish couples. To the male, they display the coloring and patterning of a young, fertile female. To the female, however, they show their normal colors. By disarming other males with an impromptu gender swap, these crafty little buggers manage to get some of their DNA into the gene pool.
17. Black Herons
The black heron is a medium-sized bird common to freshwater lakes and marshes. While many people call this bird elegant, I can’t help but be reminded of a gawky raven caught in the middle of a growth spurt. But, silly-looking or not, these birds manage to terrorize fish throughout Africa.
Many fish spend their daytime hours cowering in fear of these feathered behemoths, only swimming out from their hiding places long after night has fallen. But, the black heron is well aware of this fact. They are perfectly capable of turning day into night. Wrapping their wings into a semicircle, these fishing birds turn themselves into an umbrella where fish take cover. Then, the black heron feasts.
16. Pacific Striped Octopus
The Pacific Striped Octopus is so bizarre that the zoological community denied its existence for nearly 15 years. While many octopi are cannibalistic, often devouring one another mid-copulation, this species is known for the intimacy of its courtship. A mating pair will often wrap themselves together, beaks locked while kissing.
While the idea of an octopus playing kissy-face is enough to give most people nightmares, that’s not enough to get them a spot in this article. What’s truly horrifying is this creature’s ability to trick its prey into running right into its open maw. Biologists have often observed this creature extending a tentacle over a fish’s back to tap at its eyes, nose, or face. Panicked by the intrusion, the frightened fish often rushes in the opposite direction. The hungry octopus then gobbles it up.
15. Boxer Crabs
Hailing from the genus Lybia, these tiny cheerleaders are better known as pom-pom crabs. But, you shouldn’t let their name or size fool you. Thanks to their sea anemone buddies, these little crabs pack quite a wallop.
It all starts when a young boxer crab plucks its own piece of anemone from a preexisting plant. The crab will then use these pieces of anemone to poison prey and stun their rivals.
They’re also pretty attached to their gauntlets of living death. Biologists have observed these crabs helping the anemones to not only feed but to reproduce as well. While most cases of symbiosis are pretty fascinating, this one really takes the cake.
The bowerbird is a medium-sized bird known for its unique courtship ritual. Male bowerbirds construct miniature art galleries, fittingly called bowers, to attract potential mates. This is done by weaving together little stick structures and decorating them with brightly-colored objects. Due to their appreciation for novel objects, it’s not uncommon to find the walls of these little museums peppered with things like glass, rifle shells, coins, and broken plastic.
Once these structures are finished, female bowerbirds flit from gallery to gallery playing the part of snobby art critic. To ensure they get all the chicks, male bower birds make a habit of destroying the bowers of their rivals. They’re basically a strange mix of artist and corporate saboteur.
13. Cuckoo Birds
If you think your cousin is a deadbeat parent, you’ve never had the displeasure of meeting a cuckoo bird. It’d easily be on any list of the smartest animals ranked.
This genus of bird is truly deserving of the ‘World’s Laziest Parent’ trophy. Roughly 60 species of these birds are brood parasites; meaning that they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. As their chicks hatch faster than those of their host species, the cuckoo hatchlings shove their adopted brothers and sisters from the nest.
Due to their relatively large size, feeding these little nest crashers takes a lot out of the cuckoo’s foster parents. Any foster parent that rejects this gluttonous burden faces the wrath of its parasitic parent. Maybe you’ll think twice the next time you call your niece or nephew a parasite.
We all know that house cats are uppity little divas that live to munch on sleeping toes. But, their vocabulary is not the most sophisticated. Aside from purrs, meows, and the occasional chirp, our feline companions are mute.
That’s not the case with the Margay, however. These Amazonian natives have been documented mimicking the call of young members of their preferred snack.
Thinking they hear the injured cries of an infant, its prey often rushes out of their hiding place and right into the jaws of the waiting margay.
11. Indonesian Temple Macaques
Deep in the forests of Indonesia, a group of temple-dwelling macaques are running a ransom racket. When visiting tourists turn their back, monkeys make a dash for their backpacks. Rummaging through the goods, they run off with items such as cameras, cash, glasses, and passports.
Years of similar behavior has taught them that theft earns them treats from temple staff in exchange for the stolen items. This behavior has spread from one small group of macaques to roughly half-a-dozen. So, don’t be surprised if you run into a macaque mobster next time you visit Bali.
10. The Assassin Bug “The Vampire”
Its name says it all. These bugs are not only transmitters of Chagas disease but masters of both murder and trickery. Scientists have evidence of assassin bugs doing everything from mimicking the sound of rustling leaves to pretending to be prey in a spider’s web.
Once a target draws into range, these bugs turn into miniature vampires. Injecting their prey with a paralyzing poison, they drain them of blood and other bodily fluids.
09. The Orchid Mantis
Don’t stop and smell the flowers in Malaysia. It’s quite likely that one of them will be an orchid mantis in disguise. Through evolution, these pink-and-white insects have developed the uncanny ability to mimic their namesake flower. When a pollinator comes to investigate, the mantis tears them apart with its sharp claws.
Just because drongo is Aussie for moron doesn’t mean that these birds are stupid. In fact, recent discoveries point to the opposite. First, you need to know that the alarm calls of this bird are often the first sign that a predator is in the area. When other birds hear its call, they fly off to cower amongst the bushes and trees.
But these calls aren’t always honest. Scientists have recently observed groups of drongos calling for help so that when the other birds flee, they scoop up any food they left behind.
There are an estimated 160,000 species of moths in the world. Some of them have pretty interesting traits and abilities. Many of these revolve around one of their most prolific predators, bats.
Somewhere in the past millions of years, moths have developed the ability to both jam and mimic the echolocation of everyone’s favorite flying mammal. Dark-minded male moths, however, use these calls to terrify females and lure them into mating.
Crows are one of the most intelligent animals and emotional birds often associated with the creative process. They’re not only able to recall events from years prior, but also recall the faces of those who harmed them.
When someone does something particularly egregious, these birds will spread the word throughout their flock. The resulting grudge can lead to years of getting tortured by kamikaze crows.
05. The Spider-Tailed Horned Viper
If there’s one thing we dislike more than snakes, it’s spiders. The only thing worse would be a creature that combined them both. Meet the spider-tailed horned viper. This venomous snake is not just deadly, but sneaky. Using the spider-shaped bulge on the end of its tail, it lures in birds and other insectivores. Once their prey draws within range, they strike. At least the arachnophobes are safe…. kinda.
04. Golden Eagles
Imagine walking along the street one moment and falling through the sky the next. That’s a pretty common occurrence for the prey of golden eagles, especially turtles. This Peter Pan moment doesn’t end in a trip to Neverland, however; it ends in a shattered skull. Once the bird of prey reaches a suitable height, it lets go, then glides down to pick up the shattered remains.
03. The Shrike
When you think of evil animal geniuses, you probably don’t think of anything that looks like the shrike. This cute little bird looks more like a sparrow than a twisted villain. But, one look at its surroundings will quickly change your perception.
When mating season comes around, these birds turn the surrounding bushes into macabre Christmas trees. Male shrikes fly around and pick up smaller birds, lizards, snakes, and live insects.
They then impale these creatures, many of them still wiggling, onto thorns and cactuses. Female shrikes then mate with whichever bird most closely mimics Dracula.
Dolphins are undoubtedly the most intelligent sea animal and second smartest animal on the planet unless you’re Arthur Dent. Though they’re smart enough to be drafted into the military, these cetaceans don’t always use their power for good. Sometimes, they use it ‘trip balls’.
Over the years, dolphins have discovered that terrorized pufferfish release nonlethal amounts of their toxin. This makes them tingly and euphoric.
While not quite villainous, it’s certainly a strange use of their talent.
Most of us don’t like sharks, so we might see these killer whales as less villains and more vigilantes. But, they’re pretty frightening to sharks. Orcas learned a long time ago that sharks that go belly-up end up paralyzed and defenseless. Scientists have observed orcas working together to flip over great whites and tiger sharks. They then swarm the motionless shark and rip it into canned tuna. And, as they’re awake, it’s likely the shark feels every bit of it.
But this isn’t their only ingenious hunting technique. Watch this video about the 10 best predators in the world and you’ll find out that they probably have better ideas for hunting prey than you!
So, which animal did you think had the smartest evil genius? Let me know in the comments down below!