Here’s an 18-minute video from an old (1990) BBC “Trials of Life” series, featuring of course the inimitable Attenborough. I recommend viewing, as the behaviors on display are simply amazing. Granted, parts of this are more than a little bit grim for its theme is predation and parasitism.
I had of course heard of potter wasps, but had no idea about what they did. The behavior of this wasp is stunning, with everything, from the construction of the clay pots to the procurement of a living caterpillar as food for its single larva, is coded for in a brain about the size of the period you make with a pencil.
Likewise with the bodysnatcher wasp, which digs hole, uses tools, and have an amazing sense of place.
And so with the other predatory and parasitic wasps. Then onto colubus monkey-hunting chimps, which you might want to skip if you don’t want to see primate carnage.
Don’t miss The March of the Lobsters at about 11 minutes in, though.
The carnage continues with killer whales vs. sea lions, and that, I admit, I found that a bit hard to take, especially when the orca plays with live prey.
But who ever said that life was easy for wild animals, or natural selection kind? It is, in fact, the gruesomeness of these behaviors that helped dispel Darwin’s belief in a benevolent deity. This is from a letter sent by Darwin to Asa Gray in 1860:
With respect to the theological view of the question; this is always painful to me.— I am bewildered.— I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I shd wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. . .
Or that an orca should play with a sea lion. . .