6 Terrifying Creatures That Keep Going After They're Dead

#3. Headless Fruit Flies Are Actually More Responsible Than Headfull Fruit Flies

We couldn't put it much better than Herman T. Spieth from the Department of Zoology, University of California:

Female [fruit flies] ... will live for several days after they have been decapitated. Such beheaded females assume an upright stance comparable to that of a normal fly and can and do engage in complex actions such as preening, flying and, under duress, walking.

We're not sure what qualifies as "duress" for a headless fly, but moving on.

Although species-specific variations occur, males ... will court their decapitated females. All decapitated females of all species studied to date treat the courting overtures of the males as if they were noxious foreign stimuli.

That's right: Chop off a female fruit fly's head, and ... not much changes, really. If anything, it serves to make the flies' behavior more humanlike -- the males still just want to have sex with her, while she in turn treats their sexual advances as "noxious foreign stimuli."

"Man, Brenda used to be so cool before she got her head chopped off. What a bitch."

So, What Makes This Abomination Possible?

First of all, surviving without a head is not as impossible as one might imagine, provided one has something almost like a spare brain in their chest that manages walking, flying and other day-to-day things like circulation and respiration.

Now, here's a video showing some drugged-up headless fruit flies reacting to a light source.

Wait a minute -- how can they react to light when, the last time we checked, their eyes are on their heads? You know, the heads they no longer freaking have? Easy -- they have a sort of backup set of eyes: light-sensitive cells in, of all places, their tiny little fly kidneys.

But why do the female flies turn into prudes as soon as science goes all Game of Thrones on them? The explanation is rather simple, really: Since they hear via their antennae -- antennae that they no longer have (what, no sound-sensitive cells crammed somewhere in the vicinity of their asses?) -- the females can't listen to the males chirping whatever the fruit fly equivalent of a Barry White song is. And no sexy, sexy music equals no fruit fly lovin'.

A tragic loss for the world.

#2. Turtle Hearts Will Outlive Us All


It's probably not surprising that in some remote corners of the world -- like, say, Michigan -- snapping turtle meat is considered a delicacy of sorts. But what might surprise you is that when the aspiring chef de cuisine butchers a turtle, this can happen:

Since our marketing folks tell us that every last person reading this article has seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom multiple times, it's no surprise that the heart can still work for a few minutes after being completely removed from the body. But half an hour? That's ... something. But it turns out that, for a turtle heart, half an hour is nothin'.

So, What Makes This Abomination Possible?

The hearts of fish, reptiles, birds and mammals alike have their own pacemaker cells that take over when the signals from the brainstem are not coming through for some reason, which ensures that the heart still functions for a while, even when the brain doesn't.

"Keep beating for a while. The kidney wants to see how this plays out."

Now the turtle takes the term "for a while" to a whole new level, and this is because, from their heart's viewpoint, being cut off from the oxygen and nutrients usually supplied by the blood is just a normal day at the office. Because these animals can dive for a long time. How long? Try 5,000 hours, in the case of the loggerhead musk turtle. Yes, you read that right -- that was a five followed by three zeros, and they survive that long by what oxygen they can take up from the water via their skin, throat and butt-end, as well as their bodies' amazing potential for producing energy without oxygen. Their hearts have their own fuel stash, and they just won't give up until every last fillip of that has been used up.

Add all this up and the end result is that, just like that Celine Dion song that we had finally managed to completely wipe from our memories right up until James Cameron had the bright idea to rerelease Titanic in 3-D, a turtle's heart just goes on and on.


We've pointed out previously that male spiders tend to have some of the worst sex lives in the animal kingdom. The females not only control how long the sex will last, but in some species they more often than not terminate the males right in the middle of the act when they come down with a serious case of the munchies. Tough break for the spider dudes, huh? Well, as scientists have found out quite recently, instead of sulking in a corner and writing angsty poetry, some male spiders have stood up to fight this injustice.

"Never again, bitch."

What weapons did they choose to wield in this fight, you ask? Well, we're really glad you asked that question, because it gives us an excuse to say two words we almost NEVER get to say: zombie wangs.

So, What Makes This Abomination Possible?

Let's take a quick excursion into spider reproductive biology. Firstly, male spiders actually have two penises called pedipalps, and secondly, they're located far closer to the face than sex organs have any business being. Just look at them:

In the spider world, the cheerleaders' pom-poms hide a terrible secret.

So what happens during "remote copulation" is that during sex, the male either breaks off his own pedipalps while trying to get away or the female does it for him, and BAM! She's permafucked -- those little buggers just keep on keepin' on pumping sperm into her. It's called the eunuch phenomenon, and, believe it or not, the severed organ is actually faster and more effective than when it had the rest of the spider still attached. Sort of like that "little friend" you ladies hide in the back of your panty drawer -- if that little friend was capable of impregnating you with thousands of babies.

Smithsonian Science

Oh, and instead of acquiring a taste for fine foods and lacy fans and generally creeping out anyone who comes into contact with them, the resulting eunuchs become bad-ass fighters, thus introducing a secondary phenomenon known as "remote defecation" when they take on any wannabe courtiers of "their" female and proceed to hand them their own asses.

Baer's blog can be found here.

For more reasons Mother Nature delights in terrifying us, check out 7 Terrifying Prehistoric Creatures (That Are Still Around) and 8 Terrifying Skeletons of Adorable Animals.

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