6 of the Planet’s Best Hunters

6 of the Planet’s Best Hunters


Thanks to Skillshare for supporting this episode
of SciShow. [♪ INTRO ] Close your eyes for a second and picture the
most fearsome predator you can imagine. What did you think of? Maybe a lion? A golden eagle? A rattlesnake? Those animals may be fierce, but it turns
out that when it comes to hunting prowess, they aren’t very impressive. Solo lionesses catch the prey they pursue
only about 2% of the time, and when they work together, they still only succeed at around
one in every four hunts. Golden eagles succeed in one out of five tries. And those snakes? Their strikes miss more often than not. That’s downright pathetic compared to the
near-perfect catch rate of the humble dragonfly. When you look at the numbers to find the planet’s
most efficient hunters, most aren’t exactly species you might think of as cold-blooded
killers. But the animals on this list are hunting machines,
each with a success rate of 60% or more. [1. Black-footed Cats] Big cats like lions, tigers, and leopards
are among the most feared predators, and for good reason—all cats are obligate carnivores,
meaning they need to eat meat to survive. But the most efficient hunter of the group
is actually Africa’s smallest feline: the black-footed cat. At only 2-2.5 kilograms, these kitties might
look like small, stocky house cats, but don’t let their size or cute little furry faces
fool you. They’re ruthless killers that capture 60%
of the prey they target! And that makes them at least twice as efficient
as most other cats. The closest contender would be cheetahs, which
successfully chase down about half of their targets. But black-footed cats don’t need speed. Instead, they rely on stealth. These cats are nocturnal, so they can use
the darkness to their advantage. Their small size also helps them stay hidden
in the short shrubbery of the arid habitats they call home. That way, they can silently stalk their prey
until they’re close enough to pounce. Individual cats have been observed killing
10-15 small mammals and birds in one night. And they don’t balk at attacking prey that’s
bigger than them, either. There’s a local legend that tells of a black-footed
cat killing a giraffe by slicing its jugular vein — which… probably didn’t happen, but it speaks to
their fierce reputation. Unfortunately, bravery and ruthlessness aren’t
enough to save them from poachers, habitat loss, or car tires, and they’re currently
classified as vulnerable to extinction. They’re not going down without a fight,
though. Researchers have seen adult cats circled by
jackals five times their size, fight to survive, and win. [2. African Painted Dogs] The members of the family Canidae also have
a pretty fierce reputation — think wolves, dingoes, and coyotes. But most are kind of meh hunters, with success
rates of 35% or less. Except for African painted dogs, that is — they
kill 70-85% of the prey they hunt. And teamwork is the secret to their success. While many canids live in packs and coordinate
hunts, African painted dogs are so dependent upon one another that lone animals probably
don’t survive long. And their one- to two-dozen dog packs are
surprisingly egalitarian. There’s less animosity between individuals
than in other pack-forming species — especially at meal time, when younger animals get first
dibs. They’ll also bring food back to the den
for pups too small to join in the hunt and adults with injuries. Studies suggest they even make certain decisions
somewhat democratically. And being such close-knit social animals likely
leads to better coordination between individuals when they’re hunting as a group. Packs work together to take down large prey,
including antelopes, zebras, and the occasional wildebeest, relying on the stamina of the
group rather than the element of surprise. They’ve even learned how to turn man-made
barriers like fences to their advantage. In fact, their killing prowess is so legendary
that it used to make them the bane of farmers and ranchers. So painted dogs were poisoned or shot on sight
to protect livestock, which is the main reason why there are only several thousand of these
now-endangered animals left. Another problem is that even though they’re
skilled, efficient hunters, their tactics are also time-consuming. And that may ultimately cause their demise
as climate change leads to more periods when it’s too hot for such long hunting trips. [3. Ospreys] Raptors, aka birds of prey, are all fierce
hunters that rain down terror from the skies. But being talented hunters doesn’t always
mean they’re efficient, and most raptors usually fail to catch their targets — except
for the ones that fish. Ospreys are the most efficient birds of prey
in the world, catching their meals 80-89% of the time. With wingspans of almost two meters, they’re
gigantic, and you can find them near bodies of water almost anywhere in the world. Bald eagles, which are also big, fish-loving
birds, are almost as talented, with a success rate of about 80%. The efficiency of both birds probably comes
from their shared taste for aquatic prey. When fish rest near the surface, pack themselves
into dense schools, or hang out in shallower waters, they’re easy pickings for aerial
hunters. And both species tend to target bottom-feeding
fish, which are generally slower-moving and may spend more time looking down at their
potential meals than watching for predators from above. Of course, finding slippery prey like fish
is only half the battle — ospreys also have to keep ahold of their meals until they can
find a suitable spot to land and feast. So ospreys have scaly skin on their feet for
extra grip, and their large, curved talons both cling ato and pierce their prey — especially
when they rotate their special fourth toe to grasp extra tightly. They can even snag two fish at once — one
in each foot. Hunting doesn’t get much more efficient
than that. [4. Harbor Porpoises] If you thought those crafty orcas that knock
seals off ice or go onshore to grab pups from the beach would be the most successful cetacean
hunters, well, sorry. You’re thinking too big. Because the most successful hunter among the
whales and dolphins is the sweet little harbor porpoise, with a success rate of over 90%. The harbor porpoise tops out at around 80
kilograms and is less than 2 meters long from nose to tail. In addition to being small, they’re pretty
shy — which is maybe why you’ve never seen one, even though they’re common in
coastal areas across the northern hemisphere. They also spend pretty much all day hunting,
because they need to eat 10% or more of their body weight every day. Their small size means both a higher metabolism
and greater susceptibility to cold, so they need to burn a lot of calories to keep warm
in the chilly waters they live in. If they go a day without eating, porpoises
can get visibly thinner, and after three days, they die. Of course, when you need to eat that much,
it helps to be an efficient hunter. Exactly how they’re so much more successful
at catching their prey isn’t clear, but it might have something to do with the way
they use sound while hunting. Like many of their relatives, they find and
track the fish they eat using echolocation. And also like many of their relatives, when
they get near their targets, they emit a series of super-rapid clicks called a “buzz”. But harbor porpoises buzz at more than 500
clicks per second, which is over three times the rate recorded from orcas hunting fish. And it’s possible those super-fast clicks
give them a more accurate picture of their prey. It also probably helps that the fish can’t
really hear these clicks, so they don’t necessarily realize the porpoises are getting
close. However they do it, porpoises manage sometime
to eat upwards of 550 fish an hour — an entire order of magnitude more than estimates
for other cetacean species. They’re so ravenous, they’ve even been
known to swim up into rivers to chase down food. They’re basically miniature, hangry dolphins. [5. Dragonflies] To us, they might look pretty, or sometimes
goofy, but dragonflies are strong contenders for the insect world’s best hunters. Their larvae terrorize small fish, tadpoles,
and aquatic invertebrates, and the adults are ruthless aerial hunters that catch 95%
or more of the bugs they chase. Their large eyes, which have around 30,000
facets, give them 360 degree vision, so nothing moves without them knowing. They also have specialized pigments that detect
a wide variety of colors, and the tops of their eyes are extra sensitive to blue and
UV light, which helps give them better contrast for spotting prey against the sky. Once they find a target, they can selectively
focus their visual attention, much like we can, to keep track of its every move. Then, they take to the air. Dragonflies can chase down their meal at up
to 55 kilometers an hour. And their four wings give them incredible
maneuverability, even compared to other super-agile insects. They can fly forward, backward, straight up
and down, side to side, upside down, rotate on a dime, or simply hover and wait for the
right moment to strike. When they do go in for the kill, they don’t
aim themselves at their prey directly. They actually intercept their targets in midair
by predicting where they’ll go with a special neural circuit in their brains — which is
part of why they almost never miss. All these special adaptations make dragonflies
into impeccable aerial assassins. Which might explain why they’ve been around
for some 300 million years. [6. Leatherback Sea Turtle] Venomous snakes might be the deadliest reptiles
on the planet, but they’re far from the most efficient. There is a reptile, though, with a perfect
record: the leatherback sea turtle, which catches and consumes every single bit of prey
it targets. In a way, that makes it among the best hunters
in the world. That might be because leatherbacks only eat
jellyfish, which aren’t exactly the fastest moving prey on the planet, but with their
tentacles covered in millions of venomous stinging cells, jellies are still a formidable
food item. And they’re not very nutritious, either. Leatherbacks need to eat enough calories to
fuel their massive bodies, which can be over 2 meters in diameter and weigh 900 kilograms. That’s a lot of jellyfish. Luckily, the leatherback sea turtle is a giant,
jelly-killing machine. They can dive to depths of over 1100 meters
in search of their prey, and can stay submerged for nearly an hour and a half. Once they find a juicy lion’s mane or other
jelly swimming around, they aim for the bell, taking a big bite of the gelatinous body. The unlucky jelly’s stinging cells can’t
pierce the turtles’ leathery shell and thick skin, and all hope of escape is lost as soon
as any part of the jelly enters the turtle’s mouth. Large, hardened spines called esophageal papillae
ensure that nothing that goes in can leave, even when the turtle is spitting out excess
water it swallowed. The turtles are such good jelly-hunters that
they can consume nearly double their massive body weight in jellies every day when there’s
a bloom. Unfortunately, the turtles aren’t so great
at telling the difference between tasty jellies and not-so-tasty plastic bags, which can cause
fatal blockages in their intestines. Which means the leatherback’s efficient
jelly-hunting might be its downfall — unless we get our plastic pollution in check. So, like the other species on this list, the
leatherback might not be the most terrifying animal on the planet. But as hunters, they outperform their deadliest
relatives. It just goes to show: you can’t judge the
best assassins by their looks. But sometimes judging something by its looks
is really important, like when you’re applying for a job or a program and you need a professional
portfolio. But what’s the exact purpose of the portfolio? What should you include? And how do you organize it all? Well, if you’ve wondered these things, check
out Sonia Nicolson’s Skillshare class “Portfolio Preparation.” There, she guides you through choosing a focus
for your portfolio and the step by step process of creating and submitting one. We’ll link to her class in the description
as well as a special offer from Skillshare. Right now, Skillshare is offering SciShow
viewers two month s of unlimited access to Skillshare for free. Just click on the link in the description
to check it out. If you like learning with us at SciShow, we
think you’ll also enjoy Skillshare classes and all this week we’re working with Skillshare
to highlight fun and challenging classes. [♪ OUTRO ]

100 comments

  1. Skillshare is offering SciShow viewers two month s of unlimited access to Skillshare for free! : https://skl.sh/scishow15

    Also, check out Sonia Nicolson’s Skillshare class “Portfolio Preparation.”: https://skl.sh/2BU4wfA

  2. Haha ha
    7:54
    The most efficient hunter is the world most dumbess😂
    And slowest 😁
    It's mama is so dumb that she thought plastic bags are food.

  3. It makes sense that carnivores that hunt small animals would have hiɡher efficency rates because they would have to kill a lot more animals to ɡet the same amount of meat.

  4. Porpoises shy? Tell that to the locals round here who are happy to bump my kayak or jump the bow of whilst i'm sailing or to race along beside me as I windsurf… maybe its just me?
    I am the Porpoise whisperer.

  5. Had to watch this twice, as the first time I wasn't really listening. The host is far too distracting, very handsome man 😉

  6. Lol a turtle that has a hundred percent catch rate but can't tell the difference between a plastic bag I think the numbers are off

  7. "Harbor porpoises buzz at 50o clicks/s, three times the rate recorded from orcas"
    So they are basically overclocked orcas ?

  8. I remember 'sneaking up' on and catching dragonflies with my fingers as a kid. Not hand-scoop style, straight up catching them between thumb and index finger. Now I can't help but wonder, "how the hell did I ever do that?"

  9. The Riverbanks Zoo has a black footed cat, it’s been sleeping every time I’ve been there, but it sure is cute curled up in its little log thing.

  10. Then there are baleen whales, which typically nab hundreds or thousands of prey (krill) with each attack. Vicious kiilers, every one.

  11. We need to take care of our plastic? Pshhh. Those turtles just need to pick themselves up by their boot straps and evolve

  12. Is Hunting jellyfish really something you can consider hunting? They cant exactly do much to animals immune to their poison so its kinda just like eating poisonous corals,plants or mushrooms

  13. Shouldn't baleen whales be on the list, they just filter out plankton and krill, and so there's a pretty much 100% catch rate

  14. You should've described the turtle's hunting ability as >99% effective. 100% suggests no turtle has ever failed to catch a target, which is virtually impossible.

  15. I’m surprised humans aren’t on this list animals we don’t even hunt die so what does that make our percentage?

  16. You forgot to include the best predator in the planet's history. Humans. Never before has any single species had the ability to not only prey on literally every other species on the planet. But also been capable of deciding which go extinct and which propagate.

  17. When you said : "you can't judge the best assassins on look alone" i thought of train heartnet from black cat

  18. So human pollution and global warming are going to kill all of these great hunters? Humans suck nuts.

  19. I think that whales and other filter feeder are the most efficient hunter. They catch their prey in 1000000% or more, because they kill 1000000 prey in one hunt .

  20. My GF is saying "cool, cool… But I don't want to see the guy, I want to see the cat"…. Just thought you might want to know

  21. Humans are the most efficient killing machine that we even kill these top predators just by simply going to the grocery store.

  22. The larger the animal, the more fat, the longer it can go between kills. The smaller animals must become the best hunters to survive.

  23. Typical humans kill predatory animals to slaughter and consume their livestock, and justify hunting with their endangerment. Live and let live, not live and decimate.

  24. This abject bullcrsp of global warning is nothing but junk science and there is absolutly no bloody evidence whatsoever thst there is any sort of this bullcrap
    Nothing but pathic lies

  25. 0:25 "DiD YoU JuSt aSsUmE mY gEnDeR!?!?" said the female lion that identifies as "a photograph of a man lion"

  26. Worlds most efficient hunter brought down by plastic bags? If it weren't so tragic, it would be hilarious.

  27. I get why they include the information about habitat loss and threats, but sometimes I just want to enjoy a video about nature and amazing animals without my mood being ruined. I get the threats, I understand it, I get all of that. But I need an escape from bad news sometimes.

  28. Feral and outdoor pet cats together have caused the extinction of at least 70 recorded species of native wild animals world wide. Lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs, countless native birds, rodents, insects, arachnids, fish, marsupials, ect, have been completely eradicated by this invasive species. Not counting the unknown number of species that died as a direct result of cats removing key species in the natural food chain. Cat urine is also a problem since it kills many pants upon contact. A single outdoor pet cat, will kill at least three native animals a week and not even consume them for food. Domestic cats will kill simply because that’s what they were literally created to do. The problem is that they do the job too well and target animals other then just non-native rats and mice. If you have a cat or are someone considering getting one, please keep it indoors, be sure to have them spayed or neutered, and keep in mind that thousands of cats in shelters today, need loving homes. Adoption is the best option. Many shelters even have kittens! Keep that in mind and you will be doing your cat and the environment a favor! Have a lovely day. 🙂

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