Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Animal Faceoff

If the most deadliest creatures on the planet were ever to confront each other in the wild, which predator would win the ultimate battle? Many of nature’s deadliest confrontations are never seen and some of the mightiest beasts are destined never to meet - until now!

It is really fascinating to witness so many different kind of species existing on this planet, from the point of view of science and design. I have thought about this many times that if we had to make a new creature, how would it be? Of course there would be constraints. So would it be made for land, water or both or air? How big would it be? Because everything has its own advantages and disadvantages. A large animal means many others can't kill and eat it but it too will need more for survival than others. Would you give it more strength or speed? Bulky or lean? What would be the ultimate combination? What would be its survival tactics and how would it adapt?

A good indicator is the study of existing ones and the parameter of success is how long have they managed to survive on this planet. I am not talking about the microorganisms or plants or insects and smaller creatures but in terms of animals including reptiles, vertebrates, mammals etc. For me one of the best design and creation is undoubtedly that of the crocodile. They are an ancient lineage, and are believed to have changed little since the time of the dinosaurs. They are believed to be 200 million years old whereas dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago; crocodiles survived great extinction events. Following are a few interesting points about these great creatures-

- Good in both land and water. They have a streamlined body that enables them to swim swiftly and are very fast over short distances, even out of water.

- Since crocodiles feed by grabbing and holding onto their prey, they have evolved sharp teeth for tearing and holding onto flesh, and powerful muscles that close the jaws and hold them shut. These jaws can bite down with immense force, by far the strongest bite of any animal. The crocodile's bite force is more than 5,000 pounds per square inch (340 atm), compared to just 335 pounds per square inch (22.8 atm) for a rottweiler, 400 pounds per square inch (27 atm) for a large great white shark, or 800 pounds per square inch (54 atm) to 1,000 pounds per square inch (68 atm) for a hyena.

- Being cold-blooded predators, they have a very slow metabolism, and thus can survive long periods without food.

- Species can reach over 4.85 metres (15.9 ft) long and weigh well over 1,200 kilograms (2,600 lb).

- Their armoured skin has scales and is thick and rugged, providing some protection.

Now coming back to the animal faceoff, actually it is an interesting show on Discovery channel. This 12 part series challenges the animal kingdom’s predators against each other in a virtual fight, combining a unique blend of nature and cutting edge technology.
Each episode of the series recreates two fierce animals as biomechanical beasts in a ‘bite lab’, with the help of a team of international scientific experts. They design, build and test animatronic replicas of animals who could – but usually don’t – fight against each other in the wild.
The team deconstructs the fight by building metal replicas of the animals and recreating the animals layer by layer – skeleton, muscle and skin – in a virtual computer environment.
Within this neutral arena, neither animal has an unfair advantage and the outcome is decided scientifically: fighting skills, weapons and vulnerabilities are weighed against physical power, size and aggression. The outcome of this awesome fight between the cyber-beasts will determine which animal would most likely be triumphant were they ever to confront each other in the wild.

So who do you think wins? Here is the outcome of each fight-

Episode 1 - Great white shark vs. Saltwater Crocodile

The great white shark was looking for food. The saltwater crocodile bit the tail and then bit off the great white shark's fin and later clamped onto its nose. The crocodile attempted a death roll, but began to sink too. The saltwater crocodile broke off the attack to get air, then the shark returned and bit the croc's belly, ending the fight.

Episode 2 - White Rhinoceros vs. African elephant
The rhino charged at the elephant, but the elephant avoided the attack. The rhino tried to reached the elephant's throat, but it is too high to reach. Then, the elephant stabbed the rhinoceros two times (breaking a tusk in the process), toppled it over and crushed it under its weight.

Episode 3 - Asiatic Lion vs. Bengal Tiger
The lion tackles the tiger with a surprise charge. The tiger tried to bite the lion's throat, but the lion shook off the attack. The big cats scratched each other, but neither could lay a killer blow. The tiger tried to end the fight with a neck bite, but the lion's mane deflects his aim. The lion is more skilled at fighting, and he managed to get a throat bite and killed the tiger.

Episode 4 - Hippopotamus vs. Bull shark
The hippopotamus had a wound, and the smell of blood attracted the bull shark. The stomach and leg were too thick for the bull shark to bite, but the bull shark ripped the hippopotamus's tail off, but it only made the hippo angry. The hippopotamus bit down on the bull shark's head, ending the fight.

Episode 5 - Gray Wolf vs. Cougar
The gray wolf bit the cougar's leg, but backed off when being threatened by the cougar's claws. The wolf tried to sink his teeth into the cougar's throat, but the cougar broke off the attack by slashing its stomach. It laid a bite on the back of the neck, killing the wolf, and won. But its a shallow victory, as the rest of the wolf pack arrive, forcing it to retreat.

Episode 6 - Polar bear vs. Walrus

The polar bear tried to bite and scratch the walrus, but the walrus' skin was too thick. As the walrus flees, the polar bear gets dragged into the water, and the walrus gored the polar bear by sinking its tusks into it. The polar bear attempts to flee but the walrus finished the battle by driving its tusks into the carnivore's back.

Episode 7 - Siberian Tiger vs. Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear attempted to steal the Siberian tiger's kill, not fight the tiger. The tiger tried to bite the grizzly bear's throat, but failed. Then, the tiger jumped up on the bear from behind and bit it on the nape. The bear finished the fight by breaking the tiger's back and biting it on the neck.

Episode 8 - Lion vs. Nile crocodile
The lion couldn't lay a deadly blow on the Nile crocodile, because of the crocodile's thick armor. Then the crocodile went back into the water. The lion was at the water's edge, wondering where the crocodile went. The croc erupted out to clamp onto the cat's neck. A death roll from the crocodile ended the fight.

Episode 9 - Anaconda vs. Jaguar
The snake bites down on the jaguar's neck, wraps around it, and drags it under water. The big cat gets away by biting the reptile's tail. The snake attempts to flee, but the jaguar fishes the anaconda out of the water. The anaconda then bit the jaguar's skull, wraps around it killing it this time.

Episode 10 - Gorilla vs. Leopard
The gorilla tried to avoid a fight, but the leopard wouldn't back off. The leopard's night vision and stealth gave it the upper-hand, but the gorilla wrestled it off and bit the leopard's shoulder. When the final lunge came, the gorilla delivered a fatal blow with his arm.

Episode 11 - American Alligator vs. American Black Bear

The American alligator bit the American black bear's leg leaving a wound. However, it only bit fur, fat, and muscle. The black bear fought back. The gator tried to do a tail swipe, but the bear dodges it. Running out of energy, the alligator tried to retreat into the water, but the black bear stopped it. It rolled over and the black bear scratched the gator's belly, ending the fight.

Episode 12 - Sperm Whale vs. Colossal Squid
The sperm whale stunned the squid with a burst of sound, but the squid dodged the whale's bite. The colossal squid attacked the sperm whale with its sharp beak and serrated tentacle suckers, but the sperm whale got it off, stunned it with another burst of sound, and bit down with its teeth and ate it.
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