Even if you’re a martial arts master yourself there are creatures in the animal kingdom you could never hope to beat in a sparring match. From kangaroos that balance on their tails to weaponize both legs at once, to birds that can slice you open with a single flick of their legs—these six species have some serious kung fu kicks.
1. Cassowary Birds
This bird may look pretty, but you definitely wouldn’t want to get on its bad side. In fact, the colourful cassowary has gained a reputation as the world’s most dangerous bird due to its unpredictable, aggressive personality. Running at speeds of up to 50kph, cassowaries can jump up to a metre in the air and slice their unlucky victims open with a single deft kick. Their razor sharp claws measure an unbelievable 12 centimetres long.
Those long legs don’t just enable giraffes to reach the highest branches of trees to get a snack. Giraffes can kill a lion with a single blow—or at the very least injure their jaws badly enough that they eventually die of starvation. Definitely, not an animal the king of jungle wants to be messing about with if there are easier dinners out there to prey upon instead.
The intensely chiseled musculature of kangaroos—coupled with their ability to tower over us on their hind legs—doesn’t exactly make most humans eager to take them on. If we did, we’d probably get knocked over in an instant. Kangaroo kicks have been known to crack or break bones on impact. When fighting each other, these marsupials use their powerful tails to balance themselves while pummeling their opponents with both legs at once.
Zebras may commonly fall prey to fearsome big cat foes like lion and cheetah, but they occasionally get in a pretty serious hit of their own. In fact, zebras have the most powerful kick of any animal on the planet, and like giraffes, they’ve been known to kill lions with a swift kick to the head.
Desert-dwelling camels aren’t shy about striking out at humans when they’re annoyed. They can kick in all four directions with all four legs, jabbing sideways when necessary.
It’s probably a good thing so-called ‘terror birds’ went extinct long ago, if only because they’re so intimidating, they’d probably leave us cowering in fear of our lives anytime they approached. Phorusrhacids, to give it its latin name, were a species of large, carnivorous and flightless birds that reached heights of up to 9.8ft tall. A 2005 study found that some species of these predators may well have kicked the bones of their prey, kung-fu style, to obtain marrow. On top of that Phorusrhacids could have swallowed medium-sized dogs in a single gulp.