WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MAY MAKE BUTCH GHEYS FAINT
Some of my nominees:1. Portia spiders:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portia_(genus)
We call them 'mata mata
' (literally: 'one who has many eyes') here in the Philippines. Nothing unusual physically, but are renowned for their apparent intelligence. They use very cunning tactics for different prey and all on a very tiny amount of brain cells (which challenges the notion that a large brain means intelligence). They can also learn new tactics for new enemies on their own. And note that their prey are other spiders, often much much larger ones and more dangerous ones.2. Emerald Cockroach Wasp (Ampulex compressa)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_cockroach_wasp
We've all seen wasps carrying off spiders and insects to their nests for their young to feed. But this creature is TINY and guess what its main prey is? Cockroaches. So how the heck do they bring cockroaches back?
Simple. Brain surgery. LOL. These wasps sting cockroaches on very very specific parts of the brain which then makes the cockroaches benign slaves. By tugging on the roaches' antennae they can lead the roaches into their nests to be eaten alive willingly.3. Siphonophoraehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siphonophorae
Some of the most beautiful creatures ever. And also some of the deadliest. What's fascinating about them is that they aren't ONE animal. They are in fact colonies. Made of hundreds to thousands of individuals, each with different functions and functioning as if they were a single animal. Much like corals but much much more actively cooperating. It is theorized that this is actually similar as to how single celled organisms eventually evolved to become higher animals. (we humans for example contain traces of this phenomenon - in our mitochondria. The one thing in our body with a different DNA. They are thought to have been ancient bacteria that were once endosymbiotic and eventually merged with our ancestors giving birth to the first eukaryotic cells with power, becoming a single organism in the process. Upgrade huh?). They are also far from tiny. Siphonophores can grow to very larges sizes. The deadly Portuguese man'o'war (which is actually a colony of four kinds of animals) have tentacles for example can stretch for 50 meters. And some of the wormlike chain colonies can extend to hundreds of feet.4. Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimpoteuthis
Possibly the cutest animals evar!!! Named after the fins on the sides of their heads which resemble the ears of the Dumbo movie (which incidentally was my favorite Disney movie growing up)5. Pistol Shrimp (Alpheidae)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpheidae
One of the only two groups of animals that hunt by creating sonic booms. ;) It can close it's claws as such a speed that it leaves a cavitation bubble in the water. A region of much lower pressure than the surrounding area. The bubble then implodes instantaneously producing temperatures that are almost as hot as the surface of the sun
and producing a sound loud enough to stun or kill small fish and break glass. They are some of the loudest animals in the sea, rivaling whales, despite their small size (they are actually louder than jet fighters forchrissakes).
Hence the name. Glad they're actually quite tiny eh? The range is also only a measly 4cm from their clawtips. 6. Mantis Shrimp (Stomatopoda)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantis_shrimp
Close relatives of the Pistol shrimp. But usually larger and much more beautiful.
They also have probably the best eyesight in the animal kingdom, Able to see colors which are invisible to human eyes. That would actually mean that they are much more colorful than they appear to be. We just don't see past the visible light spectra. They are also highly intelligent and appear to communicate with each other through the colors on their bodies (much like cephalods).
Now what makes them interesting is that they also possess an interesting claw similar to the Pistol Shrimp. But unlike the pistol shrimp who are simply in effect 'snapping their fingers' to produce the cavitation bubble, mantis shrimp will strike with their claws AND produce the cavitation bubble at such speeds that the larger species can strike with a force similar to that of a small caliber bullet (and can demolish a double layer of safety
glass easily). By rights, they should have been the ones named 'Pistol' shrimp really. There are two types. The one I described are the smashers, who use that force to open clams and eat them (so you can only imagine what could happen if tender humans gets hit. It can deal serious injury). The other type, the spearers are also dangerous as well. Though not using cavitation bubbles, they can slice your fingers at lightning speed with their sharpened claws.7. Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus)
Another cephalopod. Octopuses are usually very good at camouflaging themselves (most people won't ever notice them when diving), but mimic octopuses have something unusual in that they mimic other animals. And mimic them well. They can mimic almost everything from gobies, sea serpents, crinoids, rays, jellyfish, sea anemones, to the mantis shrimp just described above. They are so successful at this that they were only very recently discovered as divers tend to mistake them for some other animal (or plant) instead of an actual octopus. Of course, like most cephalopods, they are also remarkably intelligent.