Jan 20

Superheroes have always been popular in Hollywood, and with the release of The Green Hornet in cinemas this month, followed by a new X-Men film in the summer and Batman and Spiderman looking set to return to the big screen in 2012 it seems that superheroes are here to stay. Here in the ARKive office, we have noticed an interesting trend – it seems that quite a few of these masked avengers are drawing inspiration from the animal kingdom…

The Green Hornet

Ok, I’ll admit that this guy doesn’t actually dress as a giant hornet, however he surely picked his name based on the hornet’s fearsome reputation and painful sting – bad guys beware! In reality however, the hornet is generally a peaceful, non-aggressive species. Sadly, because of our fear, in some areas of its range the hornet is threatened as a direct result of persecution by humans.

Hornet photo


After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker gained the extraordinary ability to adhere to surfaces, later using his knack for science to develop a gadget to shoot webbing huge distances, allowing him to swing through the skyline of New York City with ease. While spiders don’t actually shoot out their webs, studies have found that male spiders of many forest species are adept at flinging out lines of silk into the breeze to help them cross wide regions of empty space, a technique known as “bridging”.

Garden spider photo


Wolverine is the toughest (and let’s face it, the coolest) of the X-Men with super-strength, powerful claws and the ability to heal from almost any wound. However, his elusive animal counterpart is equally impressive. With razor sharp claws, a thick hide and teeth and jaws powerful enough to demolish frozen carrion and bone, the biggest member of the weasel family is also able to take down prey the size of sheep.

Wolverine photo


Unusually for a superhero, Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, doesn’t actually posses any superpowers and relies instead on his intellect, martial arts skills, gadgets and a lot of spare cash! Bats however do have what you could almost consider superpowers. Apart from the fact that they can fly, which for a mammal species is pretty impressive, they also have the ability to find and catch tiny insect prey mid-flight, using echolocation.

Greater mouse-eared bat photo

Why not explore ARKive and see if you can find any more superheroes from the animal kingdom? I’d love to hear your suggestions. Though they may not fight crime, and they definitely don’t wear spandex, there are plenty of species out there with the skills and strength to turn superman green with envy!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher