7 Adorable Animals That Are Also Murderous Monsters
The internet loves animals. Like a lot. This predilection can lead us to ignore the overwhelming evidence that many animals are just monsters. Now, even monsters deserve protection, and efforts to save these creatures from extinction are admirable and worth promoting. But we should be clear-eyed about the evils our furry brethren are capable of.
- •Dolphins are unspeakably evilEvery awful thing you can imagine a dolphin doing, they've done. "Gangs of male dolphins may isolate a female, slap her around with their tails, and forcibly copulate with her for weeks," The Straight Dope's Cecil Adams notes. Dolphins are also known to brutalize baby porpoises. This is weird. They don't eat the porpoises, the porpoises aren't rivals for key resources, and the porpoises don't antagonize them at all. The scariest part is that dolphins are very, very smart.
- •Ducks are brutal rapistsIn a 2012 paper on duck reproduction, the University of Massachusetts' Patricia Brennan and Yale's Richard Prum note that "up to 40 percent" of sex between wild mallards observed by researchers is forced. Male mates of victimized female ducks sometimes try to intervene but often decline to help if the attack is big enough. It's horrible. But female ducks also have an unusual ability: they can stop the sperm of their attackers from fertilizing their eggs.
- •Polar bears eat other polar bearsA 1985 paper by Mitchell Taylor, Thor Larsen, and R.E. Schweinsburg detailed dozens of instances of polar bears eating each other. More recent research continues to find polar bears eating each other, with some researchers arguing that the practice is on the rise due to global warming.
- •Hippos are incredibly deadly"Hippopotamuses are difficult to study in the wild," Slate's LV Anderson writes, "both because they tend to attack humans who get too close to them and because so much of their lives take place underwater." It's true. Hippos are bloodthirsty murderers who sometimes viciously maul people, sometimes without any provocation. They're also herbivores. They don't eat the people. They're just huge assholes.
- •Seals rape penguinsSeals hunt and eat penguins. They "repeatedly beat them on the surface of the water" in part because they don't have strong enough teeth to cut up prey, and thus need to violently beat penguins to "tear and rip off the flesh." Unsettling, but what are you going to do? Seals are carnivores. They eat other animals without any preferences as to those animals' adorableness. What's truly bizarre is that seals have recently taken to raping female penguins.
- •Otters are murderous, necrophilic aqua-weaselsOther species may do more killing. But few species are violent in quite as disturbing a way as the otter. For one thing, sea otters murder other animals even when they don't get food out of it, just for fun or something. Female sea otters are often similarly victimized. Another study found that, over an observation period from 2000 to 2003, 11 percent of otter deaths were caused, primarily or in part, by mating-related trauma.
- •Humans are responsible for unbelievable mass slaughterSure, humans might be getting less brutal toward each other; both individual and state-level violence is on the decline. But we're pretty damned good at killing other animals. A recent World Wildlife Fund study found that the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish in the world fell 52 percent from 1970 to 2010. The primary threats causing these population declines, the WWF finds, are human exploitation (eg hunting and fishing) and habitat degradation or loss.