Electricity, that magical, mystical force of nature that powers this modern age of marvels. Where does it come from? How does it get into our homes? Why can’t we bathe with a toaster? No one really knows. But thanks to Benjamin Franklin we can all watch TV, nuke nachos and play video games whenever we want through the wonders of electricity.
But we weren’t the first to unravel the secrets of this elusive force. In fact, lots of creatures utilize electricity in the most astounding ways. Mindless beasts have mastered this primal force of nature. Which is kind of weird when you think about it. No animal has ever figured out how to make fire but they can generate and manipulate electromagnetic waves?
It just goes to show that nature is weird.
photo: Wikipedia Commons
No one will be surprised to see the Electric Eel on this list. Everyone knows this slimy, sinuous South American fish can shock the ever-loving heck out of you. Its one of those cool animals we all learn about as kids. It’s interesting, but not terribly surprising. It’ll zap you…big deal. So can the torpedo ray, electric catfish and static electricity zapping rug under your feet.
But what really sets the electric eel apart is how much voltage it can generate. The electric eel (which is really not an eel but a member of the catfish family) can smack you with up too 600 volts of natural, home grown electricity. That’s almost five times more than a standard house socket. And they can deliver these debilitating jolts every few seconds continuously…for two hours straight. That’s enough to make you very very dead indeed. Though human fatalities are rare (because really, who in their right mind goes swimming in the Amazon anyway) multiple bursts can cause cardiac arrest and drowning.
“If it’s beauty doesn’t kill you the 600 volts will.”
They can also sap you from up to six feet away and they can grow over eight feet in length. And just to round out the weirdness factor, electric eels breath mostly air because the water they live in is oxygen poor.
Here’s a video of one killing a crocodile:
Elephant Nosed Fish
First of all that’s not his nose, it’s his chin. Regardless, this is an unattractive fish. The Elephant Nosed Fish is quite possibly one of the ugliest most malformed aquatic creature you will ever set eyes upon. It also has what is probably the most sophisticated sensory equipment in the entire animal kingdom. This fish’s super chin lets it perceive the world around it in ways that could almost make Daredevil believable as a Superhero. The power of Electrolocation, is apparently like Dardevils echolocation, only with electricity, and possibly magic.
Sharks and platypus are amazing in that they can detect the minute electric impulses given out by all living animals. But the elephant nosed fish has all that beat. It detects its favorite food buried in the mud and muck in the pitch of night with an electric field it generates through its tail and senses it with its elongated chin. And in case that doesn’t sound impressive enough, it eats ‘dead’ insect larva.
Sharks can feel living things, but the elephant nosed fish hunts creatures that don’t even have a life force to give them away.
Yes, they have a special sense that allows them to see dead things. Their Schnauzenorgan (we didn’t make that up, its a scientific term) are so sensitive they can find dead bugs in the muck in jet black waters. They can also determine distances, differentiate between substances, shapes and sizes. They know if something is alive, dying, or dead, which means they probably have Shrodinger’s Cat all figured out.
The elephant nosed fish can do all of this in absolute darkness with its electric chin wand. It’s a fish with super radar better than all our senses combined.
“No I’m not cute when I’m surrounded by snow…I’m Dying!”
Bee’s have fascinated people since the beginning of time. And why shouldn’t they. They’re awesome. They can communicate by dancing and they produce a sweet delicious super food that doesn’t ever go bad, even after a few thousand years. They can like fly around and sting people and stuff.
No creature on earth pollinates as many plants as bees do. They are absolutely vital to the reproduction of the worlds plants. And unfortunately cell phones are killing them off. But that’s only because these hive minded honey makers have a very special relationship with electricity.
Bees like many other creatures use the earths magnetic field for navigation. Bee’s will high tail it back to the hive before a storm breaks because they can sense the electromagnetic waves of the coming maelstrom. It’s believed that cell phone traffic interferes with their navigation.
However, even more incredibly than the fact that our communications technology is destroying nature itself is the fact that bees have mastered the power of static cling. Bee’s are fuzzy. When they fly their wings generate a negative charge that their fur picks up. Pollen naturally has a positive charge. So when a bee pulls up to a positive flower pulsing with negative static electricity the pollen practically leaps
“Ugg, and I just got cleaned off too.”
How incredible is that? They’ve mastered the same technology that makes your socks stick to everything in the drier. They’re living electro magnets! Pick up you’re cell phone and call a friend. Let them know that bees are awesome…and that the phone call is probably contributing to their inevitable extinction.
photo; Wikipedia Commons
“Damn! Forgot the suntan lotion.”
Although Not as Dangerous As the The Giant Hornet (See Article: Thieving Bastards of Nature) Wasps are already pretty fearsome. They’re fast, quiet and their sting is pretty painful. But sometimes Mother Nature just can’t leave well enough alone. What could make the wasp even better? Green energy sources.
Researchers discovered that the oriental wasp is more active during mid day than other wasps. These bugs are usually very susceptible to high temperatures. They tend to shut down during the hottest part of the day so they don’t burn up. But not the oriental wasp. These ground nesting pests thrive on sunlight. In fact, they’re the worlds only truly solar powered animal. These sun wasps have a special brown band of cells on their backs that collect light and converts it to electricity
“Transform into Omegawaspoid!”
And they’re unbelievably efficient. Most solar cells have a maximum absorption rate of around 25%. But the brown strip on the oriental wasp traps 99% of all the light that hits it. If it absorbed any more light it would be invisible (and then we’d be screwed). What does it do with all this electricity? It definitely helps them get going in the morning, but beyond that science isn’t really sure. It could help with metabolizing food, it might be for the creation of special enzymes or they might be using it to develop some sort of super bug weapon. Some sort of wasp Voltron or something…powered by solar energy.
Lots of animals can sense the electro magnetic forces of the earth. It was discovered 40 years ago that migratory birds know which way the poles are. Whales use it too. Heck, it was recently discovered courtesy of Google Earth that cows only graze facing either north or south. It seems like most animals are in tune with forces beyond the keen of human senses. And that makes perfect sense.
We’ve got GPS and Mapquest to tell us where to go. But few of these nifty tools are available to the beasts of the air, land and sea. So if you’re a blue whale traveling from one pole to the other then ability to sense directions is invaluable. But chickens take magnetic sensitivity to the next level.
Photo Thanks: Wikipedia
“Which is very helpful if you’re trying to cross the road.”
Yes, the chicken. That paragon of chubby, flightless laziness who would not survive a single day in the wild is in possession of one of the greatest senses in the world. They can actually ‘see’ the electro magnetic forces of the earth. They have GPS vision. Researchers have shown that chickens can correctly orient themselves under blue light but they loose all sense of direction under longer wavelengths like red.
In other words chickens are from Krypton. Their powers, like Super Man’s, cease to function under a red sun.
Asian Super Ants
Another creature which is too badass to exist without calling into question the concept of a loving, merciful God is Lasius neglectus or the so-called Asian super ants. These lovable little buggers are drawn to electricity in a bad way. Their attraction to sparky is actually stronger than their need for food or drink or NSFW pictures. They attack electric circuits. Science really doesn’t have a clue as to why they do this. Maybe these ants detect electromagnetic waves to hunt their prey and our power lines confuse them. Maybe they’re just jealous of our technology (suck it ants). Or maybe they believe in an antie version of Valhalla and riding the electric snake is an express ticket to paradise.
Photo Thanks: Wikipedia
“Give us the password to your router and no one gets hurt.”
Whatever the reason swarms of these critters have caused blackouts in Great Britain with their antics. Once one gets zapped an alarm pheromone is sent out that calls swarms of their brethren to attack. Millions of ants will immolate themselves sometimes leading to short circuits. And it gets worse. Asian super ant reproduces quickly and they don’t fight amongst themselves like some other species so they form gargantuan super colonies.
And don’t think only Britain is doomed. Other ants have been known to attack electricity, like the fire ants in this video:
If you’re under attack by ants and your phone keeps going dead (and you can’t find any bugs or eels to charge it with), you can check out an emergency mobile phone charger in the Phone Chargers section of our Gadget Shop