Evolution has been kind to the duck family. Ducks are viewed as benign creatures, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose. However, don’t be fooled by the ducks that have survived through to the modern day. A few centuries ago a particular branch of the duck family, called the waterboarding ducks, were found in parts of Leicestershire and Rutland where they terrorised the local wildfowl populations.

Ducks such as teal and the mallard are called dabbling ducks, which means they tip up in shallow water, putting their beaks and heads under the water and look for things to eat. The waterboarding ducks were dabbling ducks of a different kind and behaved in two different ways. If another duck was already in the dabbling position, the waterboarding duck would ambush the dabbling duck and try and drown it by forcing its backside under the water. The dabbling duck would come to the surface, but would be disoriented and the waterboarding duck would then steal whatever food was in its beak.

This is an extract from the book Animals Evolution Avoided