#3. The Roach That Can Jump on Your Face
Nobody likes cockroaches. They may not have giant fangs or venom glands, but they look every bit as if the concept of filth grew legs, and their only living goal is to identify objects that you put in your mouth, and then run and poop all over them. The one small favor God allowed us is that roaches are relegated to the ground realm. Though they have wings, they're about as adept with them as chickens are. All you have to do to avoid a cockroach is stand on a chair and shriek.
Shriek like a little girl. Go on, it's fine.
Until now, that is. Scientists have discovered a roach in South Africa that has the ability to jump, something that no other species of cockroach is known to do. And the little bastards aren't just kind of good at it, they're twice as good at jumping as grasshoppers are. They can leap almost 50 times their own body length, which means that even if you scramble onto a chair, that cockroach can be on your face in 0.1 seconds. Don't scream -- opening your mouth is exactly what it wants you to do.
Although it can easily be mistaken for a grasshopper, with its freakishly modified hind legs, the critter researchers have dubbed the "leaproach" is not related to them, but rather is an example of "convergent evolution," which in biological terms is kind of like what The Thing does to Arctic researchers.
The leaproach, or cockjump to its friends (it has no friends).
Sure, they're in Africa and not in our homes yet, but all they have to do to get here is learn how to swim, and that probably won't be long.
#2. Rat-Eating Pitcher Plant
The pitcher plant is already something that raises a huge middle finger to the natural order, or it would if it had fingers. Plants just aren't supposed to eat animals; their job is merely to sit at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder and taste good. We've had to accept the fact that there are plants out there that eat bugs, but you know what they say -- give them an inch and they'll take a mile.
We've got our time-lapsing eyes on you, plant.
In 2007, three botanists scaled Mount Victoria in the Philippines in search of new species, and they stumbled into Nepenthes attenboroughii, named after David Attenborough. Most pitcher plants are content to snack on flies, but this bastard is big enough to eat rats.
Nepenthes attenboroughii uses the same killing method as other pitchers: Its prey is lured to the cuplike growths filled with sweet nectar, but when they get too close, they slip and fall in, tiny paws thrashing for purchase on the slippery sides as they are slowly, very slowly digested by a plant that vaguely resembles genitalia.
"I never got along with my mother. This feels like poetic justice."
The question is, are we just going to stand back and watch while vegetables acquire a taste for higher order mammals? All we know is that the next time we go swimming in a lake, we're making sure it really is a lake.
#1. The Murderous Flying Fungus
When you think "fungus," you probably think of mushrooms, or maybe athlete's foot. It's something that grows in damp, warm places, and on the danger scale it's somewhere between "mild annoyance" and "delicious when deep fried."
But then you have the bad characters in the group, like the newly discovered Cryptococcus gattii, an invisible airborne fungus that, who knows, you might be breathing right now.
We feel pretty safe stating that the words "invisible" and "airborne" will never precede anything good.
We don't want to cause a panic here; all we're going to say is that National Geographic described it using the words "hypervirulent," "deadly," "fast-spreading" and "superfungi," at least one of which we're pretty sure they made up just to describe this species.
We knew that deadly fungi existed. You'd find it in warm, wet places like the tropics, where it would sometimes infect weakened or already-sick victims. So imagine everyone's surprise when this new strain showed up in Oregon and killed half a dozen perfectly healthy people.
We're no doctors, but this thing has sure done something weird to this man's testicle.
It spreads when its microscopic spores float through the air and you breathe them in. Washing your hands won't prevent it, and neither will avoiding sick people (it's not contagious -- it does just fine breeding and spreading on its own). There is no prevention -- the only defense is to wait for symptoms to appear and go get treatment (it can take weeks or months after exposure for symptoms to kick in). Fortunately, the symptoms are unique and easy to spot -- things like headache, red eyes, lethargy and "apathy."
Holy shit! We think we have it right now!
It was probably in one of the 26 whiskey shots we had last night.
For more killers you might never see coming, check out The 6 Deadliest Creatures (That Can Fit In Your Shoe). Or discover 10 Creepy Plants That Shouldn't Exist.
And stop by LinkSTORM because it is your only sanctuary now.
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