In this dangerous world what does it take to win across the savannah deep in the forest or under the sea every victor has something in common the right tools for the job whether it's vision speed sense of touch or smell exceptional equipment ups the odds.
In the battle for survival a soldier is only as good as her gear when it comes to state of the art these are the special forces tropical jungles cover only six percent of the world's surface but are home to millions of animal species and for each one every day is a battle for survival.
off the southeast coast of africa on the island of madagascar dwells an animal uniquely geared up for action a stealthy solitary soldier the chameleon its special gear boasts one especially.
Eye-catching feature its eyes through them the chameleon can view an almost 360-degree panorama keeping him safe and aiding the hood these highly evolved gun sights can zero in on targets one kilometer away they can rotate independently and focus precisely on a target four times faster.
Than we can this precision gear is positioned on opposite sides of his head providing a view to the sides behind and toward the front to protect his sensitive surveillance gear the chameleon has evolved a thick.
Muscular eyelid it surrounds each eye turret leaving only the pupil exposed and sharpening its acuity because the eyes aren't blocked by deep eye sockets each eye is free to rotate like a periscope independently of each other but when the chameleon spots potential.
Prey this special forces spy focuses his gear in the same direction gaining stereoscopic vision for precise distance and depth perception while searching for prey monocular vision is good enough each eye is controlled by separate nerve bundles to provide a wide sweep of his surroundings once the surveillance expert spots his.
Prey the images synchronize or couple the eye that finds the target sends stronger impulses to the brain than the eye still searching then both lock on creating a stereoscopic image so he can accurately deploy his other special gear his tongue the anatomy of the chameleon's eye gives.
This lizard telephoto vision it also has the highest density of optical cells of any animal tested so it sees in high definition his precision optical gear is even more enhanced by the protective turret.
behind those sharp eyes is a remarkable brain to process all that visual data by shifting his focus this special force's sharpshooter can accurately estimate distance even with a single eye when both eyes lock on a target it's game over as the chameleon deploys its ballistic tongue at almost.
Kilometers per hour after a successful mission this special forces soldier takes a rest but must remain vigilant danger can come literally from anywhere once his gear reveals an attacker he knows now's the time to stay hidden the only blind spot measuring 18 degrees.
Resides directly above his head while it's said that chameleons change color to mimic their environment that's not really true color changing cells are a vital part of the chameleon's gear but not in the way you might think they sometimes use color to stand out.
Like battle flags as this female labor's chameleon is doing a male has tracked her eager to accomplish his ultimate mission in life mating though in his excitement he's disobeyed his orders her colors clearly signal that she's really not in the mood.
So they engage though not in the way he intended losing this battle should teach him how to tell allies from enemies respect the uniform he's lost the battle but not the war he'll devote his optical gear to finding a more suitably colored receptive female.
Heading onto the african mainland we find a completely different special forces environment the lush and tangled jungles retreat leaving the open battlefield of the savannah here on most of africa's grasslands lives a surveillance and ambush.
Specialist the most effective feline hunter the serval weighing only about 16 kilos one might think the serval is not so formidable but thanks to his special gear his kill ratio is as high as 62 percent way more.
Lethal than any big scarier cat could ever dream of he stays hidden in the tall grass safe from competition while searching for rodents and small animals and this warrior can get just as ferocious as his bigger cousins.
Servals owe their ninja ninja-like success to their precise hearing channeled through the largest ears compared to body size of any cat this rotating radar gear amplifies sounds the bigger the ears the more sound they can channel into the middle and inner.
Ear increasing the serval's ability to pinpoint prey which is mostly mice all cats have 32 muscles within each ear which allows the cat to rotate each ear independently 180 degrees to focus on the source of the sound the servo's huge ears are tuned to the.
Ultrasonic frequencies of their squeaking prey and possibly even to their movements underground servals can effectively intercept this communication from as far as 15 meters once his gear picks up the signal the special force's feline locks on patiently focusing on the precise.
Location of his prey without tipping it off he keeps perfectly still until the mouse gets near then pounces skilled in hand-to-hand combat the cat stuns his prey with a blow from his four paws then the soldier finishes the job with a bite to the neck mission accomplished the serval takes.
Cover to avoid bigger competitors being such natural-born killers servals thrive on the savannah their oversized ears are only part of their special gear they also have the longest legs of any cat relative to body size and he knows how to deploy those big.
Guns his ears lead him to the underground sound of a mole rat although he stands only about 62 centimeters at the shoulder his legs allow him to jump up to two meters high this one didn't challenge himself today a mole rat is an easy target.
Besides special gear servals use special tactics unlike most cats they'll dig up a part of the rat's tunnel and patiently wait for the rodent to start repairs the hunter listens patiently for the prey to reach striking distance for an easy kill from the tips of his large ears to the ends of his long legs the serval is.
Geared up to be a special forces sniper on the african savannah hearing pays off to the servals their radar dish ears are remarkable in water though large ears aren't an advantage survival below the surface demands other.
Special gear near the coast of australia in the shark bay lives our next member of the special forces one whose entire body is a sort of radar antenna a peaceful grazer the dugong these mammalian mini submarines also.
Known as sea cows are strict herbivores at a leisurely pace of about 10 kilometers per hour they dive to the bottom in search of sea grass special forces have elite tastes and they graze only certain meadows some will dive as deep as 37 meters for their.
Favorite grasses their hearing is not as keen as the servals and their eyesights is far worse but they have developed other sensory gear to perceive their surroundings touch these submariners feel their.
Surroundings on their mouth long sensitive whiskers or vibrati help them find food short hairs all over their bodies provide complex information about their surroundings on their grazing mission they could eat up to 40 kilograms of seagrass per day as they feel around for their food they.
Get a sense of how much is available they devour grasses roots and all if the grass is scarce they'll eat algae their large rounded snout ends in a muscular cleft it hangs over the downturned mouth and helps the dugong keep contact with the sea bottom as it pulls up roots.
Six types of sensory bristles cover their lips and help them locate food as the bristles around their mouths find the sought after grasses their muscular snouts get busy pulling it up leaving furrows in the sand as they graze a dugong depends on six bristle fields for grazing two of the bristle fields are in its lower jaw and four poke out.
Of its upper jaw but to gather intelligence upon its entire surroundings its left and right sides are each outfitted with 1500 tactile hairs these hairs range from two to nine millimeters in length and they transmit delicate sensory information to the brain.
this tactile minefield conveys information about other animals near them friend or foe including other members of their special forces fleet.
That's essential for this little one who has to keep close to his mother for protection it also helps him avoid obstacles and senses water currents this tactile gear is thought to be the most developed of any mammal this one is too young to take care of.
Himself so he uses his sense of touch to feel the currents and stay close to his mother these social special forces stick together sometimes in groups of up to 200 if the seagrass is plentiful.
If not they'll migrate far in search of greener pastures using their sensitive bristle gear to get a sense of where they are though they may cover a lot of ground they move rather slowly as the only fully marine mammal that exclusively eats plants their metabolism is more freighter than fighter.
Peaceful dugongs don't deploy their special forces into the deepest regions of the open sea they leave that mission to some of the ocean's biggest battle-ready frigates far from the coasts these leviathans tend to keep fleet formations of up to 20 vessels they are geared up to perform maneuvers.
In all waters except the polar seas this pod patrols the atlantic between africa and south america sperm whales 10 of these giants in a row would match the size of an ohio-class submarine and in their own way they could be just as powerful they are the largest tooth predators on.
Our planet and have the largest brain of any animal five times heavier than ours and their heads are filled with other amazing gear sperm whale is equipped with state-of-the-art communications gear it can produce sounds of up to 230 decibels far louder than a jet engine the sounds keep the pot organized and might work as.
A sonic weapon during hunting they owe their formidable vocal and hearing abilities to organs filled with a mixture of liquid fats and waxes called spermicety the dense fluid amplifies the sounds the whales depend on for echolocation and communication communication starts with a series of.
Clicks generated through special gear a pair of phonic lips each whale has his own signature clicks so that everybody in the fleet can keep track of his comrades moves sound travels through a sperm whale's dense spermaceti nearly twice as fast as it does through the oil of a dolphin's skull and almost 1800 times faster than.
The speed of sound through salt water the sperm whale's fluid-filled spermaceti organ acts like a megaphone enhancing the power of sound waves when the whale produces a click just below the blowhole the sound travels to the back of the spermocetti and reverberates several times in a matter of.
Milliseconds the whale's sound receiving gear starts with its lower jaw which picks up echoes a continuous fat-filled canal transmits those sounds to the inner ear these special forces sperm whales might even use sound for hunting.
They usually dive between 300 and 800 meters and can stay submerged for more than an hour as they search for octopus rays and various squids but to catch the elusive giant squid they might dive as deep as two kilometers they lock onto their target using echolocation and might even stun it with a sonic blast the most powerful sound in.
The animal kingdom so but this system has risks the sperm whale's echolocation gear can backfire when they get near a coast if one whale gets stranded in the shallow water his distress calls might summon the troops stranding his comrades as well.
In some places between 50 and 70 sperm whales have been stranded at the same time victims of their close bonds and their sensitive gear which is why they have to be cautious and try to confine their incredible vocal abilities to the open seas.
Pods of sperm whales use their sonic gear to troll the ocean deep in the deep woods of the northern hemisphere lurk solitary special forces well equipped for their survival mission across the cold regions of asia europe and north america are the theaters of war for a particularly feisty breed of soldier.
wolverine looking like a small bear and possibly even more ferocious these solitary mammals belong to the weasel family only about knee-high to a man wolverines can take down adult deer though mostly they fulfill their mission as scavengers.
Especially in winter and early spring a wolverine's feeding mission might take her 25 kilometers in a day she relies on special gear to find rations to fill her belly wolverines can smell prey six meters.
Under the snow they will excavate burrows and kill hibernating animals trekking through the ice and snow burns a lot of energy this soldier's sensitive nasal gear allows her to sniff out prey as.
Efficiently as possible without wasting a step whether her target is buried deep in the snill or laying far across the woods she'll find it that enables her to successfully complete her survival mission even when prey is scarce.
A wolverine can detect smells from farther than three kilometers away thanks to the honeycomb shaped structure in its nasal cavity the organ picks up scent molecules in the air and its shape maximizes its surface area.
Unraveled it would be almost the size of a dinner plate this tracker has found a deer carcass she'll gorge herself now and then apply her special forces survival training tactics which rely on her keen sense of smell she'll bury the remains of the carcass.
For later using the snow and ice as a natural refrigerator wolverines stash food this way throughout their territory so they can sniff it out when times get tough storage on ice reduces the chances of other animals finding their cash their strong jaws and teeth have no trouble gnawing through frozen flesh and bone.
The wolverine specialized nasal gear has 30 times the surface area of a human's that's something like the difference between a postage stamp and a large postcard their sensitive olfactory gear enables these special forces to harness nature's destructive power to their advantage.
For these soldiers of misfortune even an avalanche provides an opportunity as it buries everything in its path afterward this wolverine is one of the first responders hungrily sniffing out and digging up a reindeer carcass before anyone else gets it.
With her belly full and her treasure re-buried for later she returns to headquarters in her den the wolverine special gear makes her the master of her frozen world but on the other side of the planet the rules of engagement are entirely different and so is the gear.
instead of a desolate snowy landscape we have a warm tropical sea brimming with life and battles for survival australia's great barrier reef is home to over 300 species of mollusk and one group stands out for its unique anatomy and enhanced sensory gear the octopus.
These universal soldiers are fully equipped for any situation from hunting to hiding these shape-shifting special forces wage guerrilla warfare on shrimp crabs and even lobsters equipped with eight arms three hearts and not a bone in its body he's arguably one of the planet's most unusual looking.
Warriors but his strategy depends on seeing while not being seen an octopus sees in 360 degrees giving them a perfect overview of their surroundings what they cannot see they can sense by touch and even taste through the entire surface of their bodies.
Despite their military-grade camouflage skills most octopus are colorblind their optical gear is calibrated to read polarized light which helps them hunt shimmering fish the anatomy of octopus eyes is very similar to human eyes as opposed to eyes of fish but unlike ours the eye of an octopus.
Has no blind spot this gives the octopus enough time to avoid danger waiting in his bunker until the enemy leaves the battlefield this shark has no luck today his mission's been foiled by the sensitive early detection system of the octopus good vision is only part of the special gear for the octopus he's the original.
Armed forces those eight flexible arms are outfitted with hundreds of suckers that help him move and grab things more than suction cups the desks can even cling tightly to rough surfaces the octopus senses his environment with his entire body the eight arms carry an.
Estimated 240 million receptors which gather tactile and chemical information each three millimeter sucker is lined with tens of thousands of mechanical and chemical receptors in a single layer of cells they can even taste things with their suckers.
being fully armed with sensory cells means that the octopus doesn't even have to see its prey this red octopus simply reaches into a crevice in search of an easy meal the special force's chemoreceptor gear helps the octopus navigate through her environment she can detect slight.
Changes in the water to find her bearings and protect prey for simpler tastes like sweet salty and bitter the receptors on octopus suckers might be 100 times more sensitive than our own taste buds this blue ringed octopus locked onto her target guided by chemo receptors she has the enemy within striking range.
In true assassin fashion the octopus snatches her meal a perfect catch made by a perfectly geared marine predator the specialized gear of the octopus makes her a strange and powerful force in her exotic world an ocean away a more recognizable troop of special forces practices maneuvers.
In africa groups of amazing primates live and hunt and prosper thanks to a truly gripping piece of gear meet the savannah's special forces baboons these tight-knit troops of up to 120 members keep in touch on many fronts even the youngest recruits instinctively.
Master the special gear that sets primates apart hands then grip not only do baboons have agile fingers but also a fine sense of touch they can perform delicate field operations almost as well as we can thanks to an intricate distribution of nerves and an important anatomical.
Feature the baboon signature maneuver is what's called a precision grip they engage the precision grip by pressing the thumb against the other fingers whenever you pick up a pen or catch a ball you're using a precision grip baboon troops in the field rely on their.
Precision grip for other duties baboons operate in a potential battlefield most of their neighbors are armed with sharp claws so these little ones the smallest of the baboon special forces stay under their mother's guard their grip enables their mother to become a troop transport the young ones just have to hang on tight to stay safe.
A precision grip is also essential for creating camaraderie among the troops in the form of social grooming by carefully removing ticks and other parasites from each other the baboons increase social bonds and reduce stress removing a tick only a few milliliters across demands more than.
Just a good grip it also requires a refined sense of touch besides their opposable thumbs baboons have four main nerve groups in different layers of skin pacinian corpuscules respond to pressure and vibrations meissner's corpuscles detect low frequency vibrations raffini's endings are sensitive to.
Stretch and merkel's discs respond to gentle touch and perceived shapes through this special gear baboons can better experience and manipulate their world but picking parasites is one thing grabbing a bite to eat is another time to infiltrate a fleet of flamingos the trick is to move slowly and not.
Arouse suspicion while behind enemy lines when he finds a target in range he strikes with his strong grip he grabs the flamingo holding it so it can't fly away a bite to the neck finishes the job the baboon takes his trophy of war up to the.
Riverbank only baboons and other higher primate special forces have the manual gear to take down prey with their bare hands and that includes humans this baboon's tactile skills have earned him a good dinner.
He might not be able to use a knife and fork but his dexterity allows him to pull off the best pieces of flamingo meat a baboon sense of touch is essential gear but primates aren't the only special forces that depend on touch.
We head now to australia where jungle warfare plays out every day the forests of queensland hide countless quiet battlefields many of them lined with silk these are the theaters of war for thousands of species of spiders spider silk might be the most.
Specialized special gear in the animal world eight different kinds depending on the spider woven on demand for a variety of purposes it's a home building material a line for repelling to safety.
A telegraph for communicating with a mate a cocoon for raising offspring all spiders spin silk but not all build webs webb dwelling spiders don't see well.
These special forces gather intel by reading the vibrations on their webs different frequencies distinguish between friend and food this female saint andrews cross web spider precisely engineers her snare she employs a strategy that has served her kind well for millions of years.
once she finishes her trap all she must do is wait staying perfectly still she reads the slight vibrations like a secret code from every corner of her web her special gear is on her feet structures that are specially attuned to.
Decrypt various kinds of vibrations there it is the web transmits a signal a smaller spider has wandered into her trap he's unaware that he's tripped a landmine a spider's feet are special gear they never get stuck on their own web she can move swiftly across the sticky strands.
And attack in a split seconds after the cross spider immobilizes her prey with a bite she wraps it with another type of silk to hold him until it's time to eat as a spider plucks the web it sends out ripples in every direction three different kinds of sensors on its.
Legs read the vibrations so the spider can check the web's integrity she can tell if the web is damaged or if she might have a visitor if it's a visitor she can tell if it's potential prey or a potential suitor this funnel web spider doesn't build a.
Web like the cross spider he lines his den with individual strands that alert him to intruders at the entrance of his den he's picked up the vibration of prey a cricket this special forces spider is among the most venomous in the world even to humans among his special gear a pincher.
That can supposedly pierce a person's toenail that was a fine catch now this male spider is on a different mission infiltrating a female's web looking to mate.
Approaching carefully he does not want to endanger the treaty by the nature of the vibrations the female knows that he's not an enemy or prey but apparently she's not in the mood despite all the sensory advantages the.
Male is forced to retreat sometimes it takes more than special gear to fulfill a diplomatic mission in this world the competition never quits having the right gear provides more than a fighting chance for success for optical gear the chameleon is the.
Champ with his super keen vision and independently moving eyes nothing gets past him as long as he's patient his battle plan can't fail the circle isn't much different instead of gun turret eyes she relies on her rotating radar dish ears picking up.
Sounds that others might miss and she also gets rewarded for her patience while the chameleon and serval tune their gear to distant signals the dagon gathers intelligence from close proximity the whiskers on its face and body work.
Like thousands of tiny antennae to find food and fellow submariners in the rippling water the water also carries the secret code for the sperm whale who uses clicks and sonar to rally the troops and find food his head is like an enormous sonic transmitter receiver the sperm whale relies on sound while.
The wolverine depends on smell her nasal gear picks up odor molecules even several meters under the snow thanks to her specialized naval cavity which maximizes surface area the octopus may carry the most sophisticated gear of all besides its polarized vision its whole body is an array of sensors for taste.
And touch it's like an eight-armed chemistry field lab baboons don't need eight arms when two opposable thumbs will do the baboon's precision grip is both a tool and a weapon and this gear is enhanced by sensitive nerves for ultimate control.
Spiders are ultra sensitive too but their gear is in their legs in their silken webs they're attuned to the slightest vibration of friends and foes these soldiers are on the front lines of the battle for survival special forces with special gear and prepared to win.