If there’s one thing humans are good at, it’s coming up with creative ways to kill each other. So I guess it’s inevitable that we would eventually rope in other members of the animal kingdom to do some of our dirty work.
Here are eight strange and interesting ways that human warfare involved animals throughout the years. Just wait for #7, it’s totally bizarre.
You might not know it now, but pigs can pretty destructive on the battlefield. Back in ancient times, people would starve pigs until they were ravenous and unleashed on the enemy. The pigs would be so desperate for something to eat that they’d go after whatever they could (in this case, enemy soldiers).
The Romans kicked it up a notch and used squealing pigs to frighten the war elephants of their enemies. Sometimes the pigs wouldn’t phase the elephants. The solution? Light the pigs on fire before you let them loose. That always did the trick of terrifying elephants.
As you might have guessed from the last one, elephants played a role in human warfare for a while. Before the advent of modern technology, Elephants were tanks. It took a helluva lot to take an elephant down on the battlefield, not to mention that they were terrifying to foot soldiers.
Around the turn of the century, elephants transitioned to a more behind the lines role in warfare. They become artillery and machine gun mounts, and the results were not pretty.
During World War II, the United States had the bright idea of using bats as bombs. The idea was to strap a bunch of bats with incendiary devices and airdrop them on Japan. The bats would then fly into trees and the bombs would go off. The result would predictable create a massive inferno.
Except it didn’t work out at all. After several unsuccessful tests, and a near-fatal accident, the U.S. scrapped their bat/bomb project.
4.) Sea Lions.
The U.S. Navy currently has a squad of mine-detecting sea lions. These sea lions are also trained to be on the look out for enemy divers. Their training is so sophisticated that when they spot an enemy diver, they harass them. They even sometimes pursue the diver onto land and bark to alert the troops.
Gerbils are pretty awesome in that they have the ability to sense how you’re feeling. They can smell your fear, which is pretty cool if you think about it. British authorities tried to put gerbils to use, sniffing out terrorists and smugglers at the airport.
Unfortunately gerbils can only tell if you’re afraid, not what your afraid off. To them, a scared terrorist and someone with a fear of flying smell the same. As you might expect, the gerbil behavioral detection program is no longer in existence.
Did you know that honeybees have a smelling ability equal to dogs? Because of their keen sense of smell (and how easy they are to train), bees are often used to detect bombs and drugs. These little dudes are pretty cool.
What do chickens have to do with nuclear warheads? Well, there was once a plan developed by the U.K. to bury nuclear land mines all over West Germany. People apparently thought this Cold War plan was a good idea. The only problem was that the circuits in the devices could freeze during the winter and stop working. Solution? Chickens, of course.
Someone had the idea to put a live chicken inside the nuclear mine with enough food to last the winter. Then the heat from the roosting chicken would keep all the circuits nice and warm. Luckily, this insane plan never came to fruition.
Much like elephants, camels have always served as popular wartime mounts for humans. As horses became more prevalent on the battlefield, the role of camels changed. They became sort of natural machine gun and artillery mounts because of their humps. Not to mention that they’re hardy animals.
War will always be a terrible human event. but at least we’re not using animals on the battlefield anymore. Especially elephants. I can’t imagine it’s much fun being a living artillery and/or machine gun mount.