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Violence is the brightest thread that runs through human history. Thousands of years and countless resources have been spent developing ever more efficient means of murder.
The first person to ever pick up a rock and use it to bash in a skull was clearly onto something. As a species, we have developed an impressive talent for creating ever more destructive weapons.
When nuclear weaponry came around, many feared that we would annihilate ourselves utterly. Despite this fearsome potential, the race for ever better bombs, guns, and blades still hasn't ended. There are hundreds of private companies, governments and militias seeking to improve their arsenal.
But despite all of that, we've barely scratched the surface. Almost anything can be used as a weapon in some way. Some people take a rather less philosophical approach to this idea, and they have used some of the most unlikely and weird weapons ever devised.
So with that said, let's take a look at some of the strangest weapons ever used in real fights.
1. Live Jellyfish
Jellyfish are some of the deadliest creatures on the planet. They possess an alien beauty that makes them hypnotic to watch as they move. If one happened to brush past you, you wouldn't want to repeat the experience. If you're lucky enough to survive the venomous sting of certain jellyfish, you'd be in enough pain to wish that you hadn't.
In 2009, a Florida man began hurling jellyfish at crowds of people who had gathered to enjoy the summer on Madeira Beach. He lured people out to the water by pretending he was drowning and in need of help. When they came close enough, his attacks began.
Nobody died, but the particularly vicious nature of the attack is enough to make you pause.
But this is far from the only case of live animals being used as weapons. Everyone from security-conscious homeowners to the military has recognised the tremendous value of a well-trained dog.
Humans and animals have fought side by side for centuries. Mounted cavalry using everything from horses to elephants was one of the most powerful tactics in historical battles.
Even other animals have been known to take advantage of each other's lethality to help themselves survive. Just like the man in Florida, certain species of octopus have been known to use the stinging tentacles of jellyfish as whips. Octopus demonstrate incredible intelligence on par with human children, and they are capable of great feats of problem-solving and displaying remarkable creativity. Given their similarity to us in this regard, it is not particularly surprising that they should be willing to experiment with all kinds of weaponry.
2. Durian Mace
A durian is a kind of fruit. Unlike a banana gun, you can do some serious damage with one. In fact, it's a requirement that workers and visitors of durian farms wear protective gear like hard helmets. If one of these fruits happens to hit you on the head, you won't be having any Eureka moments for quite some time.
In fact, durians seem to be designed for fighting with. They're covered in hard spikes and also come with the added benefit (or problem) of smelling absolutely disgusting to the majority of people. If one was attached to a rod or chain, it would look a lot like the kind of spiked mace we've come to associate with medieval weaponry.
This hasn't gone unnoticed. Possession of a durian with the intent of using them as weapons lead to the arrests of quite a few people in South East Asia. In the Battle of Mactan, durians were among the many improvised weapons used against Magellan's forces. Despite how silly it might sound to threaten somebody with a fruit of all things, their effectiveness in combat has been proven.
3. Chocolate Napalm
If attacking people with fruit sounds strange, chocolate has to be even weirder.
It's fairly obvious that you could give somebody a fair whack with a congealed chocolate orange. Although chocolate wouldn't be the first thing to come to mind in most confrontations, except perhaps as a peace offering, it still doesn't really move very far outside of the realm of conventional thought to use a lump of hard chocolate to hit somebody with.
Melted chocolate is a very different story.
A common tactic for defending fortresses against enemy sieges was to pour boiling hot tar over the attackers. This was almost impossible to remove once it got onto your skin. These merciless tactics were part of the reasons why this kind of battle was avoided whenever possible, as they were incredibly effective. Napalm was a similar weapon used in the Vietnam War. Unholy amounts were dropped from planes onto the Vietcong forces. Being caught in a napalm strike was almost guaranteed to result in death or crippling injury.
In more recent times, prisoners have adopted the same concepts for their own circumstances. Obviously, they don't have access to tar or napalm, but they can usually buy chocolate from the prison commissary. Once melted, it can be very difficult to remove from skin and clothing. Normally, this would be a delicious but messy accident. However, chocolate can be brought to temperatures high enough to cause severe burns. When thrown over somebody, such as an unsuspecting guard or fellow inmate, it makes for a very painful experience.
4. Bullet Tooth
If bashing somebody's head in with a rock was the million dollar idea of its day, then throwing the rock was the idea that got two million.
It's easy to see why ranged weapons have an advantage. You can stay out of harm's reach, putting down your enemy before they're anywhere close. If you have the element of surprise you can ambush even more effectively from a distance than you can by needing to get within striking distance.
In fact, most of the weapons we've invented have been used to kill from a distance. Slings, javelins, darts and eventually guns, artillery, and ICBMs are all a part of this tradition.
But they do have one flaw not shared by melee weapons. You can hit somebody with a sword or a club as many times as you like if it's in good repair. With ranged weapons, you can only use them for as long as you have ammunition.
Of course, necessity is the mother of all invention. When you're in a life or death situation, you'll find that just about anything that can be thrown makes a good weapon, whether it be by your own hand or a device. When cannons were the weapon of choice for navies, anything that wasn't nailed down was stuffed into the barrel and used. Quite often, even things that were nailed down were used, because you could use the nails too.
But what about when things are so desperate that you've run out of stuff to fire?
The Siege of Diu was just one of those occasions. The lone surviving defender had no ammunition and was absolutely certain that he was going to die. Instead of surrendering, he ripped one of his own teeth out, loaded it into his gun, fired, and managed to kill his target.
The attacking force promptly turned around and went home. Can't blame them really. It takes a very particular combination of insanity and murderous intent to kill somebody with one of your own teeth just to taunt them.