Evolution is like a Windows update -- sometimes it adds features that make no sense and just break everything. For every clear improvement like "opposable thumbs," there's some zany malfunction that seems to serve no purpose aside from making an animal's life more terrible. Here are six species that could have used a more thorough check before they left the assembly line.
Sharks are deadly and majestic creatures, killing machines so perfect that they haven't changed in millions of years. Truly the peak of evolution. Unless you put them on their backs. Then they're goofy and helpless.
That video shows a diver controlling and lifting a shark as if it was a cheerleading competition. Just rub their nose a little and put them upside-down, and the mightiest predator in the ocean turns into a more pathetic version of the Super Bowl sharks.
This is called tonic immobility, a reflex that causes a hypnosis-like state of inactivity. It's a shutdown button, basically. Divers, scientists, and assholes alike take advantage of this to study and handle the animals in the wild or in laboratories. Most of the time, sharks can't get out of this state until they are turned again ... which is how they go for a little nap and wake up to find some killer whales chomping on their livers.
Yep, orcas have found a way to use this glitch against sharks. In some species, like the great white, tonic immobility is fatal, because they need to keep swimming to pump water through their gills. So, orcas use this tactic to drown them and eat their nutritious livers. All they have to do is turn the sharks upside-down, which isn't particularly hard, since sharks are usually looking up to see what they can hunt. This leaves them wide open to groups of orcas flipping them over and turning them into helpless lumps of meat.
Orcas: the rude frat boys of the sea.
This sucks for sharks, no doubt. But we were robbed of a Jaws movie in which the final confrontation is just Roy Scheider rubbing the man-eater's nose and doing some magic tricks with it like at SeaWorld.
About 2 million years ago, pandas switched to an all-plant diet, probably in a failed attempt to shed those adorable extra pounds. Unfortunately, their digestive systems still haven't adapted to the change, which means they keep getting deadly cases of the shits.
Everything else about pandas is adapted to eating bamboo: stronger jaws to chew on it, "thumbs" for ripping it apart, etc. But not their stomachs, which you'd think would be the first thing evolution would tackle. Like other (carnivorous) bears, pandas digest food in less than ten hours, but herbivores usually need 24 hours or more. This means pandas have to spend all day eating to gain the same amount of energy from their food. This in turn gives them diarrhea. And not the regular Taco Bell type of diarrhea; they get a weird kind with mucus. Here's an adorable video to take your mind off that mental image:
Being frequently covered in toxic shit is having some impact on their reproductive success. Pandas are delicate, and they often lose their appetites upon proximity to their own nuclear turds. When you combine that with general stomach problems, it makes sense that female pandas, especially after breeding season, can't carry a fetus to term. A bad case of the runs is a sad way for a whole species to go.
The northern giant mouse lemur, or Mirza zaza, is about the size of a common squirrel, with one notable exception. They have the largest known testicles in the primate world, relatively speaking.
According to the scientists who found them, if humans had the same relative size balls, we would be walking around with two grapefruits in our pants. Which means these poor lemurs are constantly hitting them against every tree and branch in the jungle. Ugh, yeah, we've been there. It's not fun.
Now, we know what you're thinking: Don't lemur balls change size depending on the breeding season and available food? Yes, you weirdo. But not for these guys. Unlike other lemurs, the Mirza zaza's testicles stay big all year round. They don't have a specific breeding season, which means this little fellow is always horny. They live in a perpetual state of testicular soreness and blue balls. Life just keeps kicking them in the nuts, both literally and figuratively.
Sloths are famously slow, and we mean that in every conceivable way. They can't regulate their body temperature, so in order to stay cool and function, they have to burn very little energy, giving them the lowest metabolic rate of any non-hibernating mammal. Yes, even their internal organs are a bunch of lazy bastards. In practical terms, this means that they take something like 50 days to do a single dump. Wow, that's ... that's a lot of Cracked articles. We take it back. We love you, sloths.
Since sloths only eat plants that aren't very nutritious (they're too lazy to read the value charts), they don't get a lot of energy. They've developed a whole system of gut bacteria to help them deal with that junk food, but since they can't regulate their body temperature, they sometimes get too cold if the temperature drops. If this happens, the bacteria inside the sloth will die, and they won't be able to digest the food. At all.
And that's why, according to the people working in rescue centers, sloths keep starving, even though their stomachs are full. They can eat as much as they want, but they get nothing out of it. On the other hand, at least whichever predator feasts on their corpse will get a nice little bonus.
Tarsiers look like they were specifically designed to be as adorable as possible. They are essentially a whole species of anime-eyed Baby Yodas. That's why it's unfortunate that 1) They get very stressed around humans, and 2) They tend to freak out and kill themselves violently when they get stressed. Merely touching one once is enough to put them into Gruesome Suicide Mode.
Jasper Greek Golanco/Wikimedia Commons
What happens with tarsiers is known as stereotypy. That refers to any repetitive behavior -- like when some animals rock their bodies or pace around -- but in their case, it manifests as repeatedly driving their thin skulls into walls and branches until they die.
Another thing about having tarsiers as pets is that they need around 100,000 square meters of space in the wild, which we're guessing is larger than your back yard. In fact, tarsiers are so damn fragile that they're not even kept in zoos, or they'd end up turning into mass suicide exhibits. Yeah, maybe get your kid a hamster instead.
For more, check out The Bizarre Unspoken Truth About Pet Ownership - Honest Ads:
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