If you are walking through the woods and see a geometric shape drawn into the ground (or even worse, built out of animal bones,) you know some evil shit is about to be summoned to life there. Your sacrificial blood is probably the only missing ingredient. So, for instance, you never see the titular witch in The Blair Witch Project; the three bumbling protagonists just find a bunch of ritualistic structures implying that some kind of Satanic shit is about to go down:
This is the Forest Witch Rune for "skip the sequel," a message many of us ignored until too late.
This is why to this day we're so fascinated by relics like Stonehenge -- it implies something freaky was going on there. Well, researchers in the Peruvian Amazon recently stumbled upon similarly mysterious tower-like silk structures scattered throughout the forest like they were dropped by a bunch of ghosts in a weekend crafting club. These " Silkhenges" were far too complex and numerous to just be random collections of jungle debris, so who (or what) built them? The Blair Witch seemed like a reasonable guess.
Troy Alexander/Tambopata Research Center
Though credible experts simply say, "Aliens."
The answer turned out to be spiders, because, of course, it was fucking spiders. That blob in the center is actually an egg sac:
Discovering that hideous jungle spiders built these structures was only part of the mystery, though. For one thing, what freaking spider builds a fenced-in tower? Also, each tower only contains one spider, which is strange as hell -- spiders never lay a single egg, because they realized long ago that reproducing in madness-inducing swarms was the best way to keep their stranglehold of fear on the world's population. The intricate design is confusing as well. Is it for protection? An elaborate trap to catch food for the incubating spider? Is it a jungle gym?
One of those infant playsets to teach the baby shapes and murder?
The best explanation thus far (a phrase here meaning "the one we prefer to believe over 'the tower is a shrine to Spider Odin'") is that these skittering bastards are ant eaters. That silky fence protects the baby spider from invading ants until it hatches, at which point it begins adorably devouring all those who sought to destroy it. As far as why they only lay a single egg in each cocoon, these spiders are ridiculously small, so it could very well be that one egg is all they can manage to squeeze out at a time.
Hey, remember that horrifying ear worm thing in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan? The one that could get inside your skull and control your brain?
Paramount PicturesOr the hilarious version from Futurama?
If you don't, a slug probably ate your memory.
Well, there is a tiny little jellyfish that can't exactly turn you into a puppet that carries out its will, but can do something that is ... kind of scarier, actually.
The Irukandji Jellyfish is small enough to rest snugly on your thumbnail. It's so small that if it stings you, chances are you won't feel a thing. Until about 20 minutes later, that is, when the Irukandji's venom begins to work its sorcery. You experience all the usual jellyfish sting shenanigans -- you sweat, you get sick, your head throbs with pain. That's when the mortal dread begins to creep inside your brain and shriek your mind in half.
"Sounds good, let's make millions of them." -- Nature.
Victims of an Irukandji sting suffer what science creatively refers to as "Irukandji Syndrome." The jellyfish's venom causes the body to release a large amount of noradrenaline, triggering a fight-or-flight response in the victim which almost always ends in "trouser ruining panic" coming out on top. This can lead to severe hypertension and high blood pressure, which, along with causing spectacular pain, results in near-crippling anxiety, shock, and an " intense feeling of impending doom."
That's right. A symptom of this creature's bite is an overwhelming sensation of impending doom.
Judging by your current state, you must already have been bitten.
Oftentimes, the victim completely loses the will to live, and all but screams for the sweet release of a quick death. In this video, two divers barely make contact with the Irukandji (one of them gets touched with a broken tentacle that just happened to be on her wetsuit as she is taking off her glove), and are rewarded with 20 hours of agony:
They just kind of have to lie there in the hospital and endure the horrific symptoms, because there is no known cure or antivenom for an Irukandji sting. Luckily, the sting is rarely fatal in humans, because the Irukandji are apparently way more interested in making people writhe around in madness inducing pain for an entire weekend.
Related Reading: Some tiny animals are too adorable to run away from, and also terribly dangerous. Watching a giant otter murder an alligator really bumps your respect for the little guys up a level. And while the golden dart frog could easily fit in your shoe, it could also easily kill you. If you'd rather read about animals that couldn't give fewer fucks, click away.