Prints Of Darkness: 7 Amazing Animal Devils
By Steve,
Web Ecoist, 30 October 2012.

How frightening, unappealing, ugly and/or generally disagreeable does an animal need to be before it’s dubbed a “devil”? The answer is “plenty” as there aren’t that many devils among the world’s cornucopia of ornery critters. These 7 amazing animal devils aren’t actually evil, of course, they just look that way…and appearing, smelling and acting devilish are the keys to their success as species.

1. Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is as devilish as they come: its bite is immensely powerful, it emanates a foul and pungent odour when irritated (which is most of the time) and its typical vocalizations are a range of ear-piercing shrieks. Roughly the size of a small dog, the Tasmanian Devil is the world’s largest marsupial carnivore and will eat every part of nearly any animal, dead or alive, that it catches or finds.

Tasmanian Devils are threatened by a virulent form of infectious cancer that threatens to drive the species to extinction by mid-century. Devil Facial Tumour Disease, or DFTD, has wiped out up to 90 percent of the wild population in some areas of Tasmania. The disease is spread by facial biting, which is something Tasmanian Devils do when greeting, fighting and courting.

2. Giant Devil Catfish

The Giant Devil Catfish (Bagarius yarrelli) or “Goonch” is a very large catfish found in the larger rivers of Southeast Asia. growing up to 2 meters (6.6 ft) in length, the fish has been implicated in a number of fatal attacks on humans and water buffalo. The so-called Kali River Goonch Attacks occurred between 1998 and 2007 on the banks of the Kali river in northern India and southern Nepal.

Image via: Maxim

The Giant Devil Catfish was featured on a television episode of River Monsters after actor/angler Jeremy Wade was asked to try and capture the supposed man-eating Goonch. Although Wade and his assistants were able to land several man-sized fish, he suspects larger specimens may yet lurk in the depths of the Kali river.

3. Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis

The Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis (Idolomantis diabolica) is a macro-photographer’s favourite due to its colourful body and “martial arts” style threat display. Only the male of the species exhibits these colours as the female is merely beige.

Image via: Penny Arcade

So, is the Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis actually an enormous mantis or is it merely an average-sized mantis that happens to belong to a giant devil? Hmm, this is one case where neither evil is the lesser. In any case, the Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis is a popular though challenging pet that shows off its beauty in any stage of its lifespan.

4. Giant Devil Ray

The Giant Devil Ray or Devil Fish (Mobula mobular) is a spiny-tailed ray that can grow to an astonishing size: up 5.2 meters (17 ft) in length! The creature is harmless to humans as it eats only small organisms that are directed into the creatures mouth via the two “horns” on its head. It’s estimated only about 400 of these majestic endangered sea creatures remain, mainly in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea though they’ve been sighted elsewhere.

Nope, it’s not a photoshop: on August 26th, 1933, in the Atlantic Ocean off Brielle, New Jersey, a truly enormous Giant Devil Ray was dragged to shore after it became entangled in the anchor rope of a fishing vessel. It’s estimated the creature weighed around 5,000 pounds.

5. Thorny Devil

The Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) has a bark that’s much worse than its bite, though it doesn’t actually bark and it doesn’t bite humans. Growing up to 20cm (8 inches) in length and able to live up to 20 years, this Australian desert lizard boasts one of the most fearsome Latin names ever bestowed upon an animal.

Displaying a varied array of scales, spines and horns, the Thorny Devil is undoubtedly thorny though it’s not very satanic. The creature does practice some deception, however, having a scaly “false head” on its upper back that it uses to fool predators by ducking its real head.

6. Hickory Horned Devil

The Hickory Horned Devil is the larva of the Regal Moth (Citheronia regalis), also known as the Royal Walnut Moth. Caterpillars can grow up to to 15 cm (5.9 inches) long, making them the largest such insects in the United States.

Image via: Growing Green

Though it looks dangerous, the Hickory Horned Devil is all show and no go - its dangerous, devilish spikes and spines may be prickly but unlike those of other caterpillars they’re not poisonous. You’ll find Hickory Horned Devils on Walnut or Hickory trees though they may choose Persimmon, Sweet Gum or Sumac should their favourite nut trees be unavailable. [Watch video]

7. Red Devil Squid

Also known as Jumbo Squid and Humboldt Squid, Red Devils are surprisingly large, growing up to 1.75 meters or 6 ft long and weighing up to 50kg or 100 pounds. They’re also aggressively curious - they’ve been known to grab divers’ masks and air hoses, and they don’t give them back once they’re gone. Millions of these squid congregate along Mexico’s Pacific Ocean coast with stragglers ranging up to southern California and even Puget Sound. Fast, elusive and cannibalistic, Red Devils occasionally wash up on shore where beachcombers stumble upon their carcasses.

Image via: Gene Kira

Red Devil squid are formidable predators equipped with sharp beaks the size of tangerines and thousands of barb-like teeth embedded in their arm suckers. Sport fishermen claim they put up a fierce fight when hooked though captured squid have been known to blast their tormentors with viscous dark brown ink.

Bonus: Devil Toad

One bonus “devil” isn’t around to cause trouble anymore, and just as well. The Devil Toad (Beelzebufo), which lived in what is now Madagascar approximately 70 million years ago near the end of the Age of Dinosaurs…it may have even EATEN dinosaurs, albeit youngsters of smaller species. Beelzebufo is believed to have grown to over 40 cm (16 inches) from snout to tail and tipped the scales at an astonishing 4 kg (8.8 pounds). Forget ribbeting, this critter likely roared! [See also National Geographic’s article]

[Source: Web Ecoist. Edited. Some links added.]

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