Nature is just one big arms race. You evolve thicker skin, they evolve bigger teeth. So while we at Cracked like to regularly terrify our readers with tales of all the frightening creatures we share the planet with, we should always keep one thing in mind:
Nature is always finding ways to top itself.
For instance, just recently scientists have discovered ...
Imagine you're riding your bicycle down the middle of an empty, wide-open street when suddenly your face is tangled in a spider web. We're talking about a web that spans the entire distance between two buildings, like the freaking aftermath of a Spider-Man chase scene.
Congratulations, you somehow have a Darwin's bark spider in your neighborhood. This species has been known to build webs that span freaking rivers. The largest one found was 82 goddamned feet across. If that sounds far-fetched to you, you're just like scientists in 2009 before they discovered the thing. You'd think that an 82-foot spider web, stretching across rivers like a fishing net designed to catch kayakers, would be the sort of thing that'd be hard to miss. Or maybe "come out of hiding" is phase one in the bark spider's plan.
Perfect for clotheslining a Jet Skier.
Either way, you really do have to admire how spiders are always raising their game. After all, it's more or less a rule that any list of creepy, dangerous or messed-up creatures is going to have at least one spider on it, since that is the animal Satan created when God was napping.
The Darwin's bark spider spins both the largest and the strongest web of any spider known. Experts think it's entirely possible this spider's web can catch birds. They just haven't seen it happen yet.
"I could sure as hell go for some chicken right now, I'll tell you that much."
Their webs can get to be about the length of two buses and can easily bridge rivers without even giving a shit. In order to support the weight of all that web and the struggling, dying life-forms caught in it, the webbing has to be incredibly strong. In fact, it's one of the strongest materials known to man -- 10 times stronger than Kevlar.
M. Kuntner, forskning.no
Which might make it more suited to downing small aircraft than birds.
Of course, up to this point, the spiders have only been using their horrible science to build adamantium webs, not suits of armor. But it's safe to assume that this is only the beginning, and pretty soon we're going to need better bullets.
Huh. Apparently Spider-Man can beat Batman. Thanks, Nature!
In 2007, a new species of leech was discovered in Peru. When we say "discovered," we mean that it was found inside the head of a 9-year-old after she complained about a "sliding sensation" in the back of her nostril.
After digging around in there, physician Renzo Arauco-Brown discovered what appeared to be a leech with a chainsaw for a face.
"Hi there, human race. Just dropping by in case y'all are running short on nightmares."
The species, dubbed Tyrannobdella rex, is 3 inches long and has a set of teeth five times bigger than your regular leech chompers. But that's not even the most terrifying thing about it.
Unlike regular leeches that just kind of hang off your body like horrible ornaments, the T. rex leech prefers to feed from mucous membranes, rather than your skin. That means the soft tissue all up inside you. Places like the inside of your nose, behind your eyes, up your ass ... all the places you're least happy to have a 3-inch worm with daggers aggressively shooting out of its face.
You shouldn't put down your coffee and look up more images of these things right now.
If that still doesn't make you want to squeeze your various orifices so tight that you couldn't slip a needle through them, the scientists studying this monster explain that it doesn't really "bite" you, per se; it's really more of a sawing motion. Like a little miner happily hacking his way through your sinus cavity to liberate the sweet riches within.
"And here I am, demonstrating that I have the worst job ever."
We're not including this beast on this list simply because it's called the "devil worm." But it does at least warrant mentioning that it is indeed called the "devil worm."
"But really, what's more terrifying: a pitchfork, or my face?
By itself, the devil worm is tiny and ineffectual. Chances are you have more-dangerous worms living in your brain right now. What makes it disturbing is the fact that it lives so far underground that it doesn't have any business existing. How far? How about more than 2 miles straight down? Yep, dig down 10,000 feet and you'll find the devil worm happily squirming in an environment where only trace bacteria were thought to exist.
"A microscopic worm? This was totally worth abandoning my family for."
More frightening than the devil worm itself is what it represents. Scientists now think that we might be on the verge of discovering a "rich new biosphere" under the Earth. How much of this new branch of the animal kingdom will delight in feasting upon our livers? We don't yet know, though we're going to conservatively guess "most of it." But we do at least know that miles below our feet, deeper than any human has ever excavated, there exists a pale, squirming, eyeless, Lovecraftian nightmare. Always burrowing.
So, y'know. Fhtagn and stuff.