Australia is a terrifying place. Every animal native to the oversized island seems to have evolved to kill and eat human beings. And yet humans live there. Amid giant spiders, ripped kangaroos and bloodthirsty sharks, now there are birds that set fire.
According to a new report, some bird species have adopted a scorched-earth policy — not in fighting us — but to grab a bite to eat. Raptors (think falcons and hawks, not dinosaurs, yet) are spreading wildfires to flush out prey from their hiding spots, researchers argue. They take a stick from an existing brush fire and drop it someplace that isn’t on fire yet, and then wait for the critters to show themselves as their habitat burns down.
We think this can technically be considered an attack on mankind by the animals, because they burn people’s property. And it’s only a matter of time before they drop fires on houses to flush us out.
Raptors get more fearsome all the time. Jurassic Park painted velociraptors as clever, fleet-footed predators, and they may have hunted from trees. Now researchers suspect that their turkey-sized relative had a venomous bite—and other raptors might have it, too.
Researchers at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum have been studying the Sinornithosaurus, the “Chinese bird lizard,” a diminutive relative of the raptor. Closer investigations of the skull reveal that the Sinornithosaurus had snake-like fangs and pockets in the skull that indicate the former presence of glands. Because of the shape of the teeth and the fact that these gland pockets are connected to the teeth through narrow ducts, paleontologists believe that the glands contained venom. The researchers believe that the bird-like dinosaur had a venomous bite, which it used to subdue its prey.
It’s a significant discovery for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it offers more clues as to the origin of venom in snakes and lizards, which likely stems from a common ancestors these animals shared with Sinornithosaurus. It also opens up the possibility that other raptors also had venomous bites. The researchers plan to look more closely at other raptor skulls, especially its close relative, the glider Microraptor, to see if they possess similar features.
We can’t implore science enough to not attempt to bring these creatures back. Jurassic Park proved that we just can’t manage them at all, and that was a fictional movie; how badly do you think real life would be? We’re in war with animals, for Pete’s sake: do you really think that we’d be effective against these beasts? And what if the Nazis get ahold of T-rexes? Do you want to have a Nazi Tyrannosaurus Rex on your conscience? DO YOU?!!!?