Have you heard the myth about how humans are the most gullible creatures on planet Earth? If not, that's because we just made it up. But we're thinking it might be a myth worth spreading, because as we've pointed out before -- twice, even -- when it comes to myths about our neighbors in the animal kingdom, people tend to buy into even the most far-fetched ideas with nary a second thought. Like ...
8You're Never More Than Three Feet from a Spider, and It Wants to Lay Eggs in You
Spiders are so common that you're literally within three feet of one, right now. They're everywhere -- millions of them -- just waiting to jump out and horrify you with their too-many-eyes, or worse, lay their eggs inside your skin like some kind of goddamned alien. Or did you hear about the time where that one lady ordered a cactus and it exploded with baby tarantulas? Or maybe it was some bananas. Hell, maybe it was both. Spiders are fucking everywhere, that's the point.
"... It's probably just a hair. It's probably just a hair. It's probably just ..."
The "never more than three feet away" thing seems to have originated in 1995 when arachnologist Norman Platnick began an article with "Wherever you sit as you read these lines, a spider is probably no more than a few yards away." Which is technically true, especially if you keep in mind the "probably" modifier. But, as the years went by, the line was repeatedly misquoted by other articles, evolving into "Scientists estimate you're never more than three feet from a spider." Even Platnick misquoted himself in a CNN interview, saying that "You're probably within seven or eight feet of a spider, no matter where you are."
Above: Dr. Platnick, proving his point.
If you're standing in a lush grass lawn, then yeah, there might be tiny, harmless spiders right under your feet or as close as a few centimeters. If you're in parking lot, on the other hand, the closest spider could be as far as 100 feet. If you're in a jet over the ocean, the closest spider might be a ballooner getting sucked into the engines. So you probably do pass by a lot of spiders without ever even knowing it, but there's no scientific claim or study that ever said you were always within a certain distance of one.
As for the numerous legends of hidden parasitic spider eggs, this is said to have begun around the time the beehive was a popular hairdo, and it later evolved into a myth that spiders lurk in dreadlocks. Let's make fun of the spider-haired freaks, everybody! They're filthy!
"Say what you want. No one mugs the man with spider hair."
In reality, spider eggs are pretty delicate, take a long time to develop and need to be kept somewhere stable and safe. Some spiders carry their young on their backs, some carry them around in their mouths and others hang them in their webs in special little bags. They don't have any kind of appendage to insert eggs into hair, skin, other bugs, mouths, eyeballs or wherever the hell else you've been told by Internet horror stories. They leave all that shit to wasps.
7Bats Will Fly into Your Hair
Movies like to show bats flying into protagonists' faces as they scream and flail about, or getting tangled in women's hair. We seem to have some instinctive fear of this happening, and if you browse around the Internet, it seems like people are pretty sure that's the kind of kinky shit bats are into. Hey, we use bats as Halloween decorations for a reason; they're basically horrible, hairy, rabid sky-rats that want nothing more than to dive-bomb your head, tangle up in your hair like flapping bubblegum and ... we don't know, lay a bunch of bat eggs or something?
In about four seconds this whole picture will be poop.
Gary McCracken, zoologist and writer for BATS "yes that's a real magazine" Magazine has found these stories running rampant from the Americas to Europe and parts of Asia. So it has to be true, right?
While we can't say that a bat has never ended up in somebody's hair, it's certainly more of a freak occurrence than a conscious attempt on the bat's part. Bats not only have nothing to gain from the human scalp, but can't even be tricked into somebody's head. Their agility and echolocation are precise enough to detect and dodge even a single hair or pluck a single tasty mosquito out of the sky. Researchers have even deliberately tried to get bats to fly into their hair, because scientists just get so incredibly bored sometimes, with no success.
"Alright, screw cancer. Let's see how uncomfortable we can make some grad students."
"But Cracked," we hear you say, "why do bats flap all up in our faces, then?" Well, anyone who's ever stepped outside on a summer night knows that the human body is a virtual bug magnet -- especially to parasites like mosquitoes, which may as well come in a bag labeled "Bat Doritos." And all those scented shampoos and hair sprays you use can attract even more, so you may as well just wear a flashing neon sign above your head reading "Bug Buffet: Bats Eat FREE."
So bats will get near your head, it's just that with that amazing sonar we talked about, a bat can swipe a single gnat mere inches from your face and never even touch you. It's almost as if they're swooping down from the night sky to protect us. Black-winged guardian angels of the dark, sworn to protect the innocent from evil, just like ... you know. Aquaman.
Only more sexually viable.