But conflict in the natural world goes far beyond those well-known examples. In fact, many showdowns are, well, less showy, and involve clever and even downright odd defenses.
Take North America’s possum, which has evolved an immunity to the venom of rattlesnakes, or the pufferfish, which expands to three times its size to avoid getting swallowed by a hungry predator.
Why do animal battles fascinate us? According to White, “There’s the visceral thing of animals fighting—who’s going to win?” But it’s also interesting to see how animals evolve to cope with our wild world.
The sixth book in a partnership with Rovio, the entertainment company behind the video game Angry Birds, Animal Showdown breaks down the face-offs into four levels of mood: Annoyed, Testy, Outraged, and Furious.
National Geographic asked White, also a National Geographic magazine contributor, to share his five favorite animal showdowns.
Blanket octopuses in the genus Tremoctopus are aptly named: The female has webbing between its eight arms that resemble a blanket.
It’s not for keeping warm, though. If attacked by a shark, the octopus can detach one of her eight arms and part of her flowing cape, which distracts the predator.
These ocean denizens have other tricks up their sleeves: They’re immune to the stinging cells of the dangerous Portuguese man-of-war, and can actually tear a tentacle off the jellyfish to wield as a defensive weapon against predators.