Anyone who’s taken a science class knows that in nature, the name of the game isn’t strength, it’s efficiency. Every species on the planet has evolved to survive with as little effort and as much payoff as possible. That goes double for nature's killing machines.
Sitting at the top of the food chain, predators have more competition for survival (and dominance) than you might think. In order to stay at the top, they’ve had to smooth out the wrinkles in their technique and become as efficient as possible. These alpha predators aren't always the species you’d expect, either. Big cats, for example, are actually pretty sloppy killers. One study of Bengal tigers, for example, said that only about five percent of hunts result in a kill. Not exactly nature’s perfect predators.
It doesn’t take fangs or claws to rack up an impressive kill count, you just have to have a plan and stick to it. Here, for your consideration, are the most efficient murderers in nature.
The Blobfish, Nature’s Mystery, Just Inhales Whatever Passes By Its Mouth
Because it lives on the bottom of the ocean floor, not a lot is known about the stupid-looking blobfish. It has no skeleton or teeth, and when it’s pulled from its natural habitat, it looks like a disgruntled cartoon character.
Under the water, the enormous water pressure exerted on the blobfish makes it look surprisingly more fish-like (at least that’s what scientists assume, because no blob fish has actually been photographed in its natural habitat).
However, scientists hypothesize that this bottom-feeder doesn’t even move to catch its prey. Whenever something wanders close, the blobfish simply inhales and hopes for the best. Essentially, that means that no matter what its success rate, the lack of energy expended means the blobfish is efficiency incarnate.
The Black-Footed Ferret Hunts Its Prey At Home
The cute little fella you see in the picture may be endearing, but its also an efficient and ruthless killer. The primary food source of the ferret is the prairie dog. Rather than try and nab these little suckers above ground, the black-footed ferret tracks prairie dogs to their colony.
Then, the predator waits for his prey to fall asleep before slinking in the front door and moving through the colony quietly. The ferret will crawl up to a sleeping prairie dog and knock its head to wake it up. As the prairie dog rears up, it exposes its throat. The ferret lunges and the prairie dog is killed with essentially no noise, a tactic that allows the ferret to clean house over the course of the evening.
Rituals And Cooperation Work Well For The African Wild Dog
Some numbers put the African wild dog’s hunt-kill success rate at around 85 percent. Thanks to an incredibly egalitarian social structure, African wild dogs never have to worry about bucking for control. Instead, everything is shared equally, so teamwork reigns. Of course, that sucks for the local wildlife.
During a hunt, this also means that the work is shared. The pack takes down their prey by rotating its members in lines (like on a hockey team), keeping its strongest hunters up front while giving the others time to rest.
When the hunt is over, the youngest members of the family are fed first, then the remaining meat is shared evenly among the adults.
The Baleen Whale Probably Wins On Numbers Alone
Baleen whales are truly badass scourges of the sea. Sort of.
One of the largest animals on earth, baleen whales are named for the curtain-like structure that hangs from their upper jaws. Though baleen whales are some of the biggest creatures on the planet, they feed on borderline microscopic creatures like krill, crustaceans, and plankton by catching the little suckers on their baleen plate as they swim.
In one sweeping lunge, a baleen whale can scoop up as many as 250,000 krill (or whatever). A quarter million kills in one strike? You can’t deny the efficiency at play.