Top 5 Apex Predators

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An apex predator is a creature you pretty much don’t want to meet. They sit at the top of the food chain, ready to either eat or battle – or battle and then eat – any and all challengers to their lofty, deadly position. Thanks to our big ol’ brains, when not actively under siege by some Godzilla-like character, humans are the apex predators in pretty much every corner of the globe. But we’re just going to pretend that whole “we harnessed fire and tools and have assault rifles” thing is not a factor, if that’s OK with you. In their respective corners of the natural world, these five animals are the ultimate apex badasses — er, predators.

5 The Komodo Dragon

Image Credit: Wikimedia

OK, yes, we shoehorned this one in here by picking an extremely specific frame, namely a single island. The apex predator of Komodo is, of course, the Komodo dragon, a lizard that lives up to its name because it is A) native to Komodo and B) pretty much a goddamn dragon! They can weigh more than 200 lbs. and reach 9 feet in length. Their bite alone is powerful and deadly, but they also rely on a stew of “septic pathogens” (bacteria) that thrive in their mouths and act as a poison. Komodo dragons will often swallow prey whole, even when said prey is a goat or medium-sized pig.

4 The Harpy Eagle

Image Credit: Wikimedia

The largest living species of eagle is the Harpy, a bird that lives up to its name by making life quite unpleasant for animals living throughout much of South and Central America. Female Harpy eagles are larger than males, often weighing in near 20 lbs., and can have a wingspan that’s more than 7 feet! Their primary diet is sloths and monkeys, though the Harpy will gladly eat any mammal or reptile it can sink its razor sharp talons into. And no, nothing hunts the Harpy. It is the apex predator of all skies where it flies.

3 The Nile Croc

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When in Africa, beware these guys. Technically, the mosquito causes more deaths than any animal in Africa, but this scourge is from diseases they carry, and not the insect’s direct action. And yes, hippos are the second deadliest animal in Africa for human beings, but they are not true predators, because they do not consume what they kill (mostly). No, the deadliest “true” predator in Africa is the dreaded Nile crocodile. They attack hundreds of humans and millions of gazelles (and fish and zebras and gnus) every year, dragging their victims below the churning water with what might be the strongest bite force on earth today.

2 The T. Rex

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Debate continues to swirl over whether or not the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex was a fearsome predator or simple scavenger, but the scientific community seems to be settling on the likelihood that it was both. A T. rex would use his (or her) mighty jaws, producing up to 5,000 lbs. of bite pressure behind serrated teeth, both to kill and to eat carcasses. And doesn’t that make the “Tyrant Dinosaur King” the real apex predator of the era? It would not only kill and eat whatever it wanted, but would also come eat your lunch, too. He was the apex predator and scavenger of the Cretaceous.

1 The Killer Whale

Image Credit: Wikimedia

Oh, so you thought the ocean’s #1 predator was going to be the fearsome great white shark, did you? Well, think again: The deadliest maritime monster can be found in all of the world’s oceans and is none other than … Shamu! Orcas live up to their other name, the killer whale, by killing the hell out of so many things. Killer whales eat everything from fish to sharks to seals to other whales! They have no natural predators. They also seem to only injure or kill humans in theme park accidents. There may be a connection to be forged there …

Steven John is a published novelist and competitive pole vault champion. (The latter is not true.) His writing runs the gamut from speculative fiction to essays fueled by a mix of mirth and derision. He has never been to Lisbon but, statistically speaking, is probably taller than you.

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