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10.

Giant Anteater
Although they might seem like vacuum cleaners, collecting ants like
crumbs with one big sniff of their snout, its not quite that easy for
giant anteaters. To capture a meal, first these mammals use their
large claws to open a colony or tree trunk. From there, they must
act quickly, because the tiny insects theyre feasting on dont go
down without a fight and could sting them.
What look like really long noses are actually anteaters jaws, so they
arent snorting ants at all. Instead, they use their long tongues to
collect their meals. According to the Smithsonian National Zoo
(SNZ), giant anteaters tongues are 2 feet (.6 meters) long and their
saliva acts as glue, which makes it easy to gather up their tiny
victims quickly. Instead of teeth, anteaters have hard growths on the
inside of their mouths that act like food processors, crushing insects
as they are consumed. SNZ also reports some anteaters have been
known to swallow small stones that continue the crushing process in
their stomachs. At one sitting, giant anteaters can eat a few
thousand insects within minutes, so they need all the kitchen aid
they can get.

9. Leafcutter Ant
Leafcutter ants are different from other species of ants in the way
they make their food. In fact, according to the Chicago-based
Lincoln Park Zoo (LPZ), these ants are the first animals known to
cultivate their own crops like farmers. They get their name because
of their ability to cut leaves from trees with their scissor-like
mandibles. Once leaves are cut, each ant carries a leaf back to the
colony where the leaves are added to a pile, similar to a compost
heap. Worker ants then add their feces or saliva to the leaves,
which acts as a kind of fertilizer to help the leaves grow fungus.
They later use the resulting fungus to feed ant larvae. While the
baby ants eat the nutrient-rich fungus, adult ants feast on sap thats
also produced from the leaves.

8. Nursery Web Spider


The male nursery web spiders mating ritual includes a recipe for
romance. He knows it takes more than just showing up on a girls
web to mate with her, so this eight-legged Casanova goes above
and beyond. The spider will take an insect thats landed in his web
and wrap it tightly in silk like a beautiful gift. Once the male nursery
web spider sets his sights on a mate, he takes the silk-wrapped
insect and presents it to his ladylove. While the female nursery web
spider enjoys and is distracted by this tasty treat, the male
makes his move and mates with her. Sometimes desperate times
call for desperate measures, and a male spider might wrap up a
non-edible object, like a small pebble, if an insect cant be found.
This gift is still accepted by the female, but the male has to act fast
because she will attack when she unwraps the offering and realizes
his act of deception.
Image credit: SMB(spidermanbryce) via Flickr

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7. Egyptian Vulture
The Egyptian vulture could be compared to freegans, which are
people who try to live a consumer-free lifestyle by dumpster diving
for discarded food products. This bird employs similar tactics to find
its sustenance. The Egyptian vulture doesnt have a sense of smell,
and relies on its vision to locate food. It will dumpster dive for fruits
and vegetables and has even been know to eat feces. Although this
vulture doesnt seem to have a refined palate, it does employ a
special technique to crack eggs that earns him high culinary marks.
In fact, the Egyptian vulture is the only bird that eats eggs. It prefers
ostrich eggs, but they are too big to pick up, so this bird takes rocks
in his mouth and throws them at the egg until the shell breaks.
Then, the Egyptian vulture feasts on the gooey center.
Image credit: Steve Snodgrass via Flickr

6. Crocodile
The smile of a crocodile is one of its most recognizable features, but
these scaly reptiles have never had table manners and dont use
their teeth for chewing their food properly. Instead, they use their
large chompers to catch and hold prey in a death grip before
swallowing it whole. Of course, this tactic only works on small
animals, so crocodiles use their teeth and jaws like blenders on
larger victims. They will grind up their super-sized meals until the
food has been broken down into more manageable bites, and if the
crocodiles dine on hard-shelled creatures, their teeth act like
nutcrackers breaking the shells to get to the meaty center.

5. Red Squirrel
Just like its gray cousin, the red squirrel gathers nuts and grains
during the summer and fall in preparation for winter, but this bushytailed woodland creature has one other trick up its sleeve when
winter rations begin to run low. It bites into the side of a maple tree,
poking holes in the bark and then waits for the sweet maple syrup to
drip from the trees center. After the syrup has dried on the tree
bark, the red squirrel will return to lick the sweet residue. According
to Bernd Heinrich, a naturalist and author of Winter World: The
Ingenuity of Animal Survival, this is an excellent survival strategy,
since the syrup gives a needed boost of energy during the winter
when other food sources are scarce.

4. Japanese Macaque
Dont expect the Japanese macaque to eat just any old food it picks
up off the ground. This animal is more civilized than the average
monkey. Also called a snow monkey, the small primate is native to
Japan and eats a large variety of foods, including plants, insects
and fruits. What makes mealtime so interesting with these creatures
is that they wash their food before eating it. Researchers discovered
this when they left sweet potatoes on the beach for a group of
macaques. One female took a potato and washed it off in the water
before eating it, and the rest of the macaques followed suit. The
ocean water not only cleans the food, but the salt in it offers
seasoning, too. Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto would approve.

3. Northern Shrike
Anyone whos ever eaten corn on the cob knows how handy those
little corn-shaped skewers are at making it easier to chow down,
and one clever bird employs a similar method to handle its meals.
The Northern shrike, a songbird mostly found in southern Canada
and the northern United States, captures insects and other small
vertebrates and then skewers them onto thorns, spiny stalks or
even barbed wire fences. These sharp objects make eating a lot
easier for the shrike, as he can take off what he wants in small
pieces and return later for more. According to Cornell University, the
shrike also uses this method so it can eat poisonous insects. After
sliding its victim onto the skewer, it waits a few days for the toxins to
dry out and then returns to feast on its catch.
Image credit: fwooper via Flickr

2. Burying Beetle
This beetles food preparation method is so unique, it was named
for the process. The idea behind the technique the burying beetle
uses is similar to how a human might preserve items through
canning or freezing, to keep food fresh while halting the growth of
bacteria. When the beetle finds a dead bird or rodent, it immediately
sets about preparing the meal for its young. First, it covers the
carcass in oral secretions that are antibacterial and antifungal and
slow the decaying process. Next, the beetle digs a hole for the
carcass and lines the area with the fur or feathers it stripped from
the dead animal. Then, it puts the preserved carcass in the tomb
and digs a nest for its own baby beetles right next door, so that the
larvae can feed on the carcass easily. This entire preservation
process takes only about eight hours, making your grandmas allday canning sessions seem extra long.
Image credit: kebman via flickr

1. Honeybee
No countdown about animals and food would be complete without
paying homage to the honeybee. This striped bee is the only insect
that produces food available for human consumption, and it didnt
earn the name worker bee for nothing. In order to make honey,
field honeybees collect nectar from flowers and return to the hive
where worker bees take the nectar and begin to process it into
honey by evaporating water from the nectar. This process can take
a while, since they have to eat and then regurgitate the nectar
repeatedly until it becomes honey. Like the other animals on this list,
honeybees prove that being an animal gourmet isnt easy, but the
results are often well worth it