Predation isn't pretty, and it's hard to root for the predator when the prey is something cute and cuddly, like a little bunny or a baby seal. It all just seems so unfair. (Scroll down for a look at some gruesome images if you're unsure...)
But wildlife biologists know better.
"Native prey species have co-evolved with native predators, so there is a fine balance between them...where the prey have a good chance of avoiding or escaping the predator," Dr. Mike Letnic, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told The Huffington Post in an email. And when this balance falls out of whack, he said, the whole ecosystem suffers.
Letnic likened the timeless struggle between predator and prey to an "evolutionary arms race." In this race, both predator and prey have their specific adaptations that help them foil each others' plans. Predator adaptions include acute vision, hearing, and olfaction (sense of smell) as well as fangs, beaks, claws, and other weapon-like body parts. And prey animals? In addition to keen senses, their adaptations include camouflage, speed, and weapon-like body parts of their own, including antlers and quills.
So next time you're in the veld or viewing a nature video, maybe don't be too quick to root for the zebra over the lioness... or the baby seal over the shark. Everyone has to eat.