Evolution isn't so much a tree as water running down a hillside: It takes the easiest path available, no matter how filthy the terrain. In celebration of Mother Nature’s laziness, we've categorized some of the nastiest habits that, differing cultures aside, no species should ever respect. We should note that we didn’t include insects on this list, because cockroaches and waterbugs would have stolen the top slots, and we hate bugs.
Despite an appearance and name like the marauders from Mad Max, bone-crushing hyenas are much more similar to the shifty guy in prison with one drifty eye, who can't win a fight and instead slashes your Achilles tendon. They have a reputation as grave robbers, which is the lowest-bitch occupation you can have without sexually assaulting someone. And do they, like other animals, urinate to mark their territory? Why, no, that would be pointless when nature has favored the hyena with engorged anal glands that secrete a rank, creamy substance for them to rub on everything, wouldn’t it?
All of the above is just to illustrate that the hyena is a less than charming animal. With that in mind. it should come as no surprise that hyenas mate in a manner similar to the worst Vegas bachelor parties. When a hyena bro gets in the mood and has too much to drink, he finds a female and flashes his erection at her. She, in return, shames him with a much larger engorged clitoris, because, y’know, vaginal penetration would be too normal. Or at least it would, if the female hyena’s labia hadn't grown together and even been padded with fat that resembles testes (for most of history, hyenas were thought to be hermaphroditic or bisexual). When they've confirmed that they're probably different genders, their anal cream is ripe, and neither one has bitten each other's genitals off this time (oh yes, it happens), it’s time to mate!
Unless he can't, because of course he has to fishtail his approach vector from behind her and then get inside her pseudo-penis. But if he does, the lucky lady gets to push a two-pound cub through her inch-wide clitorenis a few months later. And if it doesn't kill her, she gets to raise a squealing kid with fresh anal glands. Still, it could be worse - at least they're not giraffes. Those Dionysian bastards drink the female's urine as foreplay.
Nature has no shortage of defensive tactics, but for every special forces critter like the poisonous, camouflaged, ink-screening, prehensile octopus, there's a street-fighter just waiting to show that he’s too crazy to die.
Enter the horned lizard. When threatened, he neither fights nor flees: He stays still, which is just stupid. It never works, so his next trick is to puff up to look big and scary. That, of course, just makes him look like a bigger portion, so it's come down to hell-tactics: He winks at his attacker. No, not in a calm, confident manner, but rather, to expel a jet of blood in the offending party's face.
We only know two things about eyes: Your girlfriend has pretty ones, and they are not supposed to bleed. Such a sight is going to stop anyone in their tracks. But again, horned lizard does not just bleedify his own peepers, he squirts a five-foot stream with laser-pointer precision. And this is no small amount of blood, friends. It's a hoser. The entire reason the bigger animal is in his personal space is to get a taste of his blood, but horned lizard pulls this nasty move taught to him by demons, and even the dumbest critter understands that it's dealing with some ghastly monstrosity. Oh, and the blood tastes foul to mammalian predators, possibly because it's cursed by Beelzebub. Birds aren't affected by the flavor, probably because they get a taste for it when they're serving time as witches' familiars.
The horned lizard's nasty, but it has a solid logical premise in its creepy PsyOps blood campaign. See if you can deduce the evolutionary chain that led the hairy frog to this Saw IV tactic.
Hairy frog is the polite term for Trichobatarachtus robustus, otherwise known as "horror frog." This beast is Wolverine, with the goofy hair to match. Seriously - go ahead and threaten the horror frog. We'll wait. Assuming you can still hear the words of man after encountering fetal Cthulu here, we will now explain what you just witnessed. The claws on its hands are actually its own bones, which it breaks and pops through its own skin to slash attackers.
Oh yeah, and those hairs? Of course they're skin and arteries, so it can breath through its goddamn flesh-haircut. No, no, we understand – come back to read the rest when you’ve finished vomiting everything you ever ate out of your nose and ears.
We've all heard the phrase "Happy as a pig in shit," but we've just as often heard that pigs are fastidious animals, other than the occasional cooling mud bath. Well, it turns out that's not how pigs get their filth in. They're coprophagous, meaning they eat poop, including their own. Turns out there's good grazing in feces that aren't digested into oblivion, and what with so little plant life on earth, who wouldn't take the easy path to nutrition by eating your food twice? Apparently that's easier than just evolving a more efficient stomach. In any case, you'll often find a pig happily munching horse chips, and not so happily making out with his girlfriend later.
Life is different at the bottom of the sea - we get that. We shouldn't judge another culture just because it's so bass-ackwards it rejects daylight. What we can judge the anglerfish for, though, is its lousy cannibalistic mating rituals, in which a wimpy little male spots a zaftig lovely lady seven times his size with a face like a shaved pitbull, and the needle-mouth of a classic Cretaceous beauty. So affected by his ardor is this filthy demon, that he tunnels into her body with the lovingest of teeth. This is necessary, because he was born without a digestive system (and by “born” we mean “presumably stitched together in some horrific Austrian laboratory”).
Food's hard to come by down there, so even though she hangs out where there's no light to see how ugly she is, the lady humpback hedged her bet by birthing males who can't enjoy a good meal unless a lady serves it to him (just like Italians).
Okay, so now he's a parasite while she does all the work, but what if she shakes him off? In our dad's case, it's enough to tell mom she's nothing without him, and no one else will ever love her, but you can't lever that kind of verbal abuse underwater, so he just releases hell's own enzyme that melts her flesh and his into one. As his organs fuse into useless stubs of monster-flesh in what was once her proud (but ugly) virgin body, he has become a ghastly, wriggling turkey baster in waiting for the one useful moment of his life when she requires the release of his ugly seed.
Really, male anglerfish are the funkiest kind of slackers. All they do is eat pizza and sit on the couch until the one time in life they're asked to courier one lady's gene packet to another. These guys probably smell like patchouli.
You think the humpback anglerfish is some ancient plug-and-play DNA business, and then you see the hagfish, a wriggling, slimy creature that goes out of its way to look like a penis and is so primitive, scientists aren't even sure it qualifies as a fish. It goes back 550 million years to the Lower Cambrian period, a time when the only qualifications to be alive were a tolerance for methane and being too scary for even Manga to fantasize about. For pete's sake, they're named hagfish, how much warning do you need?
They're widely considered the "most disgusting" of all sea creatures. You know who said that? Scientists. The people who coo delighted sighs of discovery when they poke things that make most of us recoil. They studied this beast, and their official assessment is, “It's a monster”.
Okay, so what exactly did Earth concoct before she really developed as an artist? Oh, everything you'd expect: orgies, hermaphroditic genitals, and as much asymmetry as you can cram onto something that's basically a half-blind tentacle. They're scavengers, so they eat rotting corpses, but that's not weird enough for them. They prefer to dive into the carrion and eat their way out, just in case it would help them terrify innocent passers-by.
Their big thing is exuding copious amounts of slime – like, so much, you wonder where they're keeping it. Again: they're penises. And just like your ugly monstrosity (hey, we get a lot of humor out of body shame), you don't want to mix its emission with water unless you want fibrous crap stuck to you. Basically, if you're a fish, and you eat one of these guys, it floods your gills with expanding foam. But then, if you're dumb enough to eat one, you deserve expulsion from the gene pool.
We're not kidding -- water plus hagfish gets you a solid five gallons of fear-slime--so much that even the hagfish can't deal with it. Does it stink? Of course it does! Only like the worst rotting fish you've ever encountered, putrefying for the last 550,000 millennia. And no, it doesn't ever go away. One way or another, the hagfish is going to make sure you don't reproduce. It's like a big, pink Instant Darwin button. All hail the hagfish, king of dirty bastards!