It seems that with each passing day scientists publish some report that says dinosaurs and birds had a lot in common physically. For some people, that might make dinos seem less terrifying, but smart folks realize that it should make birds a lot scarier. Want proof? Just check out the shoebill stork, the scariest freaking bird to ever walk the planet.
If you’re one of those people who’s continuously disheartened by the fact that scientists are consistently reporting that dinosaurs were basically just giant chickens, then you need only take a gander at the elusive shoebill stork and its frighteningly big beak.
The shoebill murder bird is native to the marshes of East Africa... and your nightmares. This masterful hunter (and endangered species) is a reclusive menace to the inhabitants of the lands it occupies. If you want to understand just how bone-chillingly terrifying nature can be, just step inside the world of the shoebill stork - the scariest bird you'd never want to encounter.
Shoebills are extremely shy creatures, so scientists and ornithologists have very little video footage of shoebills doing their thing. So, when one adventurous crew ventured into the territory of a shoebill, they were thrilled to find a nest with two hatchlings alone and untended.
Of course, what happened next was horrific.
In the nest were two chicks that had been born five days apart. As a result, one of the two chicks was noticeably larger than the other chick. The larger bird was not only favored by the parent, but it also viciously pecked at the smaller chick until the bird was driven from the nest to shrivel in the sun and pass away. Talk about a sibling rivalry.
That goofy-looking bill clapped onto the front of the shoebill’s face may look like a cruel joke of evolution, but it’s actually a lethal tool. Sure, it also looks like a shoe, a fact that has not been lost on any of the civilizations that have run across the beast. The Arabs called it Abu-Markhub, or “father of a slipper.” However, that bill is not to be trifled with.
After taking its prey's body into its beak, the shoebill opens its bill just enough for its victim to poke its head out. Then, the shoebill clamps down again with its knife-edged beak and removes its prey's head before swallowing the rest.
Just take a few, brief moments to think about all the slippery, slimy, scary terrors of the natural world swimming and squirming through the darkest corners of your mind. You’re picturing crocodiles and eels and lungfish (even if you didn’t know they existed, you definitely are). Too bad those are the kinds of critters that the shoebill absolutely loves to munch down on.
That’s right, the shoebill will happily go to town on a freaking crocodile if the thing happens to cross its path.
Shoebill storks are masters of patience. They’ll sit in the water for hours on end, sometimes submerged up to their waists, as the creepy crawlies swim around them, poor things unaware of the grim fate that peers down at them from above.
Then, suddenly, the shoebill will lunge forward, driving its razor-sharp bill into the silt, totally engulfing its victim (along with a bunch of dirt, water, and kelp). The shoebill clamps down, lifts its giant head, and starts swinging its bill back and forth, sifting out the stuff it doesn’t want to actually eat before dining.