We've come a long way from thinking that what separates us from the animals is, say, using a rock to bash in the skull of our competitors. It turns out that there are a lot of creatures out that that re-purpose tools to make their personal world better and someone else's world a lot worse. Take a look at the world's craziest and most intimidating weapons wielded by animals.
10. The Herring Gull's Bread
This bird has learned how to use bread to construct a trap. Herring gulls live in large colonies in the urban areas of Scotland, supplementing their natural food with discarded human food. When their population went up, and discarded human food didn't completely meet their needs, they headed to goldfish ponds. There, they used pieces of dropped bread to lure goldfish to the surface, where they swooped down and ate them. They're not just warriors, they're gamblers as well, risking their heard-earned bread to get a little meat. With them around, it's like the Old West with wings.
9. The Dolphin's Nets
Bottlenose dolphins have found inspiration in old gladiator movies and created nets to catch and trap their prey. Not being content with being larger and traveling in large groups, the dolphins learned that fish can't tell the difference between walls of bubbles or of mud and regular solid walls. The dolphins circle schools of fish, either blowing air bubbles or kicking up mud and sand, forcing the fish into smaller and smaller areas, at which point the dolphins charge through and eat them.
8. The Raven's Play-Fighting Swords
The common raven has been acknowledged as one of the most intelligent birds - and animals - anywhere. They're able to improvise tools in new situations, teach other birds how to use tools, and will play with any new object they've found, looking for a use for it. The twigs that they break off of trees aren't helpful in actual fights compared to their powerful beaks and claws, but they do use them as weapons - in play sword fights. Young ravens will joust at each other and clack their twigs together just the way young kids who break branches off of trees do.
7. The Seagull's Cars
In the ongoing war between shelled animals and winged animals, hard surfaces were the best technology either of them had devised. Gulls would fly high up and drop oysters and clams onto rocks, shattering them and feasting on their gooey insides. But that didn't always work, and the repeated trips up were tiring and the oysters could just roll off the rocks into the sea. Then the car came along, and suddenly the oysters' prospects dimmed. If a sidewalk couldn't finish off an oyster, a truck driving over it certainly could. Seagulls would drop the oysters in the crosswalks of intersections, let the cars roll over them, wait for the light to change, and then swoop down and feast. They know our patterns, people. And they know how to weaponize us.
6. The Elephant's Rocks
Sometimes you need to get back to basics with a good, old-fashioned rock. Elephants certainly do. These giant mammals have been known to throw rocks at anyone they don't like. Wild elephants toss rocks at cars, but even 'tame' elephants get in on the act. In Korea, a woman at a children's zoo sustained a head injury because an elephant threw a rock at her. There have also been cases when elephants picked up big rocks and threw them at electric fences, downing them so they could pass through. So not only do elephants use rocks as projectiles, they use them in siege warfare as well. They will take down our walls. (There are plenty of clips on youtube of elephants throwing rocks. I picked this one to show the precision of their aim and because the people taunting the elephant clearly deserved it.)
5. The Gorilla's Dirt and Rocks
This one is sinister because it's aimed at humans. Gorillas in Cameroon were observed being rather unfriendly to incoming humans. The humans were not poachers, but the gorillas didn't care too much about that. They weren't welcome, and so the gorillas drove them back by throwing rocks and dirt at them. This would be quite disturbing, if it weren't for the fact that the western lowland gorillas seemed to forget that they were a great deal bigger (weighing up to three hundred pounds) and altogether stronger than the people coming through, and instead believed that thrown dirt was more frightening than a gorilla attack.
4. The Dolphin's Sea Snake
Dolphins, it has been widely observed, are evil geniuses. They murder for fun. They kidnap other dolphins. They apparently hump every tourist silly enough to get in the water with them. Oh, and they use live sea snakes as weapons. The sea snake is one of the deadliest snakes in the world, and its venom causes 'full respiratory paralysis.' Normally sea snakes are pretty chill, but one thing that really whips them into aggression is being grabbed around the midsection by a dolphin and dragged through schools of fish. The sea snakes bite the fish, the fish die, and 'harvester' dolphins gather them up. This means that if you anger a dolphin, at least a dolphin around Australia, it can get back at you by siccing a snake on you.
3. The Blanket Octopus's Jellyfish Whip
The Blanket Octopus is an octopus with beautiful webbing between its tentacles, making it look like it's trailing blankets. It uses these to sail around the ocean and entrap its prey, but they aren't its most formidable tool. It's immune to the sting of the Man of War jellyfish, so when the octopus is feeling in need of security, it glides down to the jellyfish and rips off a few tentacles. These tentacles are full of stinging poison that will hurt or kill almost anything else in the ocean, so the octopus carries them around, and whips the everloving crap out of whatever it pleases. This technically shouldn't be scarier than a dolphin with a sea snake, but it is, because while the dolphin carries the snake in its mouth, the octopus carries the jellyfish tentacle in its hand. It's like a tiny eight-armed alien whipping you with poison. Would you tell it to stop? Not if there were any more Man of Wars in sight.
2. The Boxer Crab's Gloves
You get in a fight with a crab, you better have a manager. If he's any good, like Mickey, he'll make sure you don't fight a boxer crab. It looks like a cheerleader, waving around little pom-poms and walking sideways. Get in the ring with it, though, and you'll get an unpleasant surprise. The pom-poms are any of three different kinds of sea anemones. These anemones share one common trait: the ability to sting the hell out of anything they touch. The boxer crab will punch something with its fist covered in anemones, causing whatever it is, small prey or large predator, a huge amount of pain. It's not the boxer's fault. It must break you. This was just the best way to do it.
1. The Chimp's Arsenal
I've never liked monkeys (or apes, but monkeys is a funnier word), but haven't put my finger on why. I thought maybe it was just reading Murders in the Rue Morgue and an impressionable age, but now I understand that I was on to something. Gone are the days when chimps were cute guys who made sticks that could pull up termites from hills. In are the days when chimps, specifically a chimp group living in Senegal, sharpen spears with their teeth, and skewer sleeping bush babies, eating them corn-dog style. When they're done, they clean the spear and move on, saving it for later. This group also lives, part of the time, in caves. As an added bonus, another chimp at a zoo in Sweden is throwing rocks at visitors. That's nothing new, but what's disturbing is the chimp is saving the rocks, piling them up so he has a weapons cache when people who displease him come around. This means that stronger, more agile apes are not only making weapons but hoarding them to build arsenals. This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a thousand screaming, armed chimpanzees.
Top Image of 2001 via Brick
Alternate Top Image: Delphine Bruyere
Raven Image: World Bird Sanctuary
Chimp Sharpening Spear: TAW