Step aside Mr. Architect, there's a new champ in town. (I'm sorry, it's not you.) There are some animals in the world that are natural, self-taught architects. They are able to build the most unique and functional structures in the world. They could probably do it blind-folded.
Animal instincts can be amazingly strong. Some instincts tell predators to hunt and kill. Others tell spiders how to make a perfectly-spun web that glistens in the morning dew and inspires us to hope.
1. Ant Nests in Northern Territory, Australia: These green ants, famous for their nesting ability, create nests by weaving together leaves using larval silk, in an incredible display of cooperation.
2. Leaf Curling Spider: The Australian leaf-cutting spider creates an enclosure by curling a dead leaf and lining it with silk.
3. Vogelko Gardener Bowerbird Bower in Indonesia: Creating cone-shaped hut structures 100 cm high and 160 cm in diameter, these birds use sticks to hold up their masterpiece. They'll then clear out the front law of debris and add some moss, for the true 1950's dream house.
4. Social Weaver Birds and their Sky Condominiums: Known for building the biggest nests in the bird world, these places are capable of housing hundreds of birds for several generations and can be as large as 25 feets wide, 5 feet high, and weigh over one ton. Some nests are even known to have survived over a hundred years.
5. Gopher Towns: These burrows can span hundreds of acres and contain hundreds or even thousands of rodents.
6. Mud Dauber Prisons: These wasps create prisons where they capture spiders for consumption and imprison some of them in asylums built out of wasp barf and mud.
7. The Trapdoor Spiders’ Hinged Door Home: The trapdoor spider is one scary bug. It makes an elaborate home complete with a fully hinged door that it uses as a booby trap for its prey.
8. Magnetic Termite Mounds in Litchfield National Park: Reaching almost two meters high, tens of thousand of "magnetic" termites can be found in these Australian mounds. It’s believed that this bizarre architecture helps the termites cope with the hot Australian climate and keeps them from getting overheated.
9. Beaver Dam: Incredibly recognizable, the beaver dam is typically about 100 meters in length and can be the source of extensive property damage by encouraging flooding and water way passage restriction. However, these dams can also be very beneficial when restoring wetlands. To date, the largest recorded beaver dam is located in Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada and measures 850 meters in length.
10. Beaver Lodges: First dams, now lodges, Beavers use severed branches and mud to create a covered enclosure that protects them from predators such as wolves and wolverines.
11. Puffer Fish Circles: Created by 5 inch long pufferfish, this 7 foot diameter formation is designed to attract a mate and have her lay eggs in the center.
12. Caddisfly Jewelry: Typically these creatures construct elaborate protective tubes from material found near them, including wood, fish bone, sand, etc. Here though, French artist Hubert Duprat provided gold and preceious stones for an amazing effect.
13. Flower Sandwiches: This floral contraption is a bee nest created by the rare Osmia avosetta bees. Made into a three tier chamber, the outside consists of a thin layer of petals, a layer or mud, and an additional layer of petals.
14. Amicta Cocoons: This orthogonal structure is created by the female Amicta quadrangularis for pupation. It’s formed out of bits of grass stems and measures about 1.1 inch long and 0.2 to 0.3 inches square.
15. Largest Anthills in Holystone, Northumberland, United Kingdom: These northern wood ant hills are the biggest ever recorded. They can measure up to 7 feet tall and house an estimated 500,000 insects.
16. Mega-Colony in Southern Europe: The largest ant colony in the world today is located in Southern Europe and is home to 33 separate ant populations running along a 3,731 mile stretch of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.
17. The Great Barrier Reef: Known as the single greatest structure built by living organisms, the great reef is composed of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands spanning over 1600 miles.
18. Mysterious Web Tower: First spotted by Georgia Tech graduate student Troy Alexander, the origin of this bizarre looking web tower was unknown. However, thanks to a research expedition team it was revealed that this weird web tower is in fact a spider egg sac. Scientists however are still baffled as to what kind of Spider would produce this.
19. Spongilla Fly Cocoon: The Spongefly creates this bizarre and oddly beautiful cocoon when pupating.
20. Edible-nest Swiftlet: This nest is made out of solidified bird saliva and is even considered an edible delicacy by humans.
21. Paper Wasps Nest: The paper wasp is known for using fibers from dead wood and plant stems to construct their nests. In one particular instance, researchers from the University of Illinois gave the wasps colored papers resulting in a colorfully constructed nest.
22. Chimpanzee Beds: Taking branches from specific trees, chimps create beds high up in the canopies to make the ideal night time sleeping spot away from ground predators.
23. Rufous Hornero Nest: Unlike other birds, this one creates its nest using mud and dung. Gross.
24. Gossamer Trees: In 2010, flooding in Pakistan caused millions of spiders (that’s right…millions) to seek refuge in trees, eventually covering them in dread-evoking webs.
25. Montezuma Oropendola Nests: These birds use vines to create hanging baskets that are then grouped together into colonies. They're used to ward off raiding monkeys looking for bird eggs.
There's no doubt that #24 will haunt my dreams tonight. Can you imagine... MILLIONS of spiders?!?! Nightmare city, population: me. Each of these structures are impressive, but some of them you wouldn't want to see for yourself in person. There's just a little too crazy.
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