8 Animals That Use Their Spikes as Tools
Category: Poison injection
Venomous Spikes Like Harpoons
Scorpionfish, lionfish, stonefish - these and around 250 other fish are highly venomous and have nasty spikes. Their dorsal fins have been turned into poison stings and they also have spines towards the ends of their bodies. The whiptail stingray also earned its name. It has two small venomous harpoons on the end of its tail.
Category: Movement, tool and defense
The Best-Known Spines in the World
It’s 36 degrees, hot sand burns between your toes with every step, but the deep blue sea is still meters away. And then it isn’t just the sand that’s burning, but a horrible pain... a sea urchin under your foot. It did that on purpose! Or did it? Sea urchins don’t mean to hurt people, but their spines aren’t just there for decoration. They use their long, movable spines to roll under rocks and algae. But they also feel quite at home on sandy beaches and along the coast.
The sea urchins that live here have considerably shorter and thicker spines that they use to dig into the sand. The spines alone are enough to cause pain, but the sea urchins also have “poison needles”. They have hollow spines that are full of poison - like little syringes. Leather urchins even have venom sacs in their spines.
Like Legolas in a Kelp Forest
The cone snail doesn’t have pointy ears and doesn’t live in Rivendell, but is one of the most feared archers in the sea. Anyone that comes too close will quickly find out about their poison harpoons that they fire straight from their mouths. The barbs get stuck in the prey while the highly concentrated nerve toxin paralyzes. And now the gross bit: the cone snail eats its victim whole, including its skin and hair. It’s just as quick as Legolas as well: if one arrow isn’t enough, it just shoots another one. So be careful if you find a live cone snail on a beach. The toxin can even be dangerous to humans. So dangerous that you can even die from it. Don’t touch!