The 7 Most Terrifyingly Huge Things in the History of Nature
We may be the undisputed kings of the food chain, but when it comes to being pant-soilingly huge, we come up a bit short. We can hang out with tiny dogs and house cats until we feel like the T-Rex of our home -- but in the back of our mind, we know. Nature has produced terrifyingly huge and horrific organisms that could kill us without noticing, either by stepping on us, accidentally swallowing us the way we might swallow a fly or simply stopping our heart with sheer terror.
A Crab as Big as Your Car
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
In this case, almost all of them are some variation of AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Japanese spider crabs, in what we can only assume is a cruel joke from God, possess all the most terrifying qualities of each of its namesakes. Lets just make a list, shall we? From spiders it has:
- Long spindly legs to help it creep through your nightmares.
- A terrifyingly disproportionate body just to freak you out.
- The ability to trigger the primal arachnophobe inside us all.
And from crabs it has:
- A hammer-proof body.
- Claws perfectly shaped for attacking soft human limbs.
- Years of pent up anger from seeing its family served with lemon butter.
These things can grow to sizes of just under 13 feet, or if you prefer, the size of a family car.
"For me? Awww, Tim Burton -- you shouldn't have!"
Luckily though they are only found in Japan and even then you have to go pretty deep underwater to find one. If you ever do venture that deep, you're on the crabs' home turf, but at least you could prepare properly -- those underwater flamethrower modifications are bound to work. And then you've got crab legs for the rest of the year, baby!
The Prehistoric Whale With 14-Inch Teeth
For being the biggest animals in the ocean, whales are usually nothing more than floating islands, filter-feeding on tiny shrimp. But set your time machine back far enough, and you'll find the waters full of insanity:
That thing could eat humans by the handful like popcorn.
Yep, Moby Dick had nothing on Livyatan Melvilli. If you haven't guessed, this thing was named after Herman Melville, and a giant sea monster from the Bible.
That's not the whole animal. That's just its freaking skull.
This thing was the same size and shape of a modern sperm whale (that is, four times as long as the largest great white sharks), with a head built like a battering ram and a tail as big as a small car. Only with one major difference: while the sperm whale's mouth is built for gently swallowing animals with no skeleton, Livyatan had teeth up to 14-inches long.
Those are individual teeth. Holy. Shit.
What could a katana-toothed sperm whale eat, though? Whatever the hell it wanted to.
Artist's rendition of evolution just flipping the hell out.
The Livyatan lived in a time when the ocean's whale species were growing larger and diversifying, which means Moby Monster feasted mainly on other whales. It was a hypercarnivore, which means it got 70 percent of its sustenance from meat, which puts it in the same category as big cats, eagles and sharks. Though we prefer to think "hypercarnivore" means it hunted like Gary Busey with a pound of stimulants and a mouthful of steak knives.
Honestly, it doesn't even need the teeth. It could just swallow you like a pill.
It shared the same oceans as another giant thank-God-for-extinction-events horror, the Megalodon. So if you decide to go swimming during your time travel adventure, your fate will either be "eaten by giant shark" or "eaten by murderous sperm whale," and in both cases, it'd probably happen because the monster accidentally devoured you while trying to eat the comparatively smaller creature that was in the process of eating you.
The Dinosaur that Makes Other Dinosaurs Look Like Lap Dogs
Picture the biggest of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (specifically, the Brachiosaurus, aka the gigantic dinosaur with the long neck). Now let's use it to give you some sense of scale as to just how huge the Amphicoelias Fragillimus was. Here's Dr. Ian Malcolm, naked, standing next to a Brachiosaurus ...
Yeah, that's pretty big.
... which was apparently just this bigger dinosaur's pet:
This giant was the single largest land-based life form -- never mind dinosaur -- on record.
The femur alone is estimated to be bigger than a grown man.
Although paleontologists have nothing to work with other than a drawing of one bone from this monster, it was large enough to give us a rough idea of the obscene size of it. Do you remember this scene from King Kong?
The one where Kong's fully erect penis crushes that woman?
Amphicoelias Fragillimus was not only taller than King Kong or that 'rex, it was tall enough to have walked over them. This beast was big enough to have eaten you out of a six-story window. It stretched roughly 30-feet longer than Godzilla was tall, which according to Homeland Security, registers it as a class-G movie monster.
Dude was taller than a Rancor with King Kong on its shoulders.
The Thousand-Pound Cat
But why are we looking to the distant past and Japan for monstrous creatures that can bite you in half? They didn't all go extinct, you know. Some of them are just being invented. Like the liger.
A liger, as Napoleon Dynamite fans know, is what happens when a lion and a tiger end up in the same cage and they make the ultimate choice. When the offspring stands on its hind legs, it's twice as tall as a man:
And considers women on stepladders to be "meat-fruit."
Ligers are like the Blade of the big cat world; they possess all of the strengths of both parent animals and have none of their weaknesses. And "big cat" is an understatement: It's a half-ton, 12-foot-long snarling mass of muscle capable of fitting your entire screaming head in its mouth. Oh, and it moves as fast as your car goes on the highway.
That's right; it's reportedly capable of running 60 miles per hour. Can you run that fast? Just imagine being hit by half a ton traveling at that speed, then remember it has this attached to the end.
Not pictured: screaming.
Which is Roman for, "OH MY DEAR GOD, IT'S GOT MY LEG!"
Look at the scale there. Compare the lady's head with the liger's mouth.
Hercules happened as a result of a lion and tiger getting their freak on because scientists accidentally let them breed (sure ... "accidentally"). In just three short years Hercules already massively outgrew both of his parents, presumably right before eating them.
Related: 5 Ways to Improve Cats
Antlers Twice the Size of a Man
If there existed an award for "Most Underrated Badass" in the animal kingdom, the winner would probably be deer. We always think of Bambi when we see one, but these guys charge their way through adolescence in a blood orgy of hormone-fueled, antler-clashing mayhem. But even the most badass trophy bucks of modern times pale in comparison to the beasts our ancient brethren tangled with:
One of many reasons why man invented the cannon.
You see, back in the day, deer were essentially bears with what can only be called "antlers" in the Crocodile Dundee School of Zoology -- meaning that if you think deer today have massive antlers, well ...
"These are antlers."
Say hello to Megaloceros Giganteus: the Irish elk. This enormous Eurasian monster is the largest deer we know about, and it was easily recognized by the two insane war-axes growing out of its skull. Why did their antlers get so big? Why else? To get laid.
If women aren't impressed by them, there's something wrong with the women.
While it is believed that the Irish elk already had large antlers to begin with, it should come as no surprise that only elks sporting the largest weaponry were able to win enough primeval brawls to pump out a few heirs. By modern standards, this would be like bringing an AT-AT to a knife-fight, and to the winner went Bambi's mother.
Of course, our ancestors didn't come across any of them within the confines of a car. So now picture crossing paths with one of these maulers during mating season, armed with nothing but a sharpened stick. See how well you match up against proto-Bambi.
All of a sudden, getting shot off-screen doesn't sound so bad.
Sperm 20 Times the Size of the Creature it Comes From
Wait, why is a fruit fly on this list? We have giant predators ripped from the terror center of the brain, and we're including the little bastards you have to shoo away from your bananas? Well, it's not the fruit fly that's terrifyingly huge. Let's just say the fly is packing some serious heat in the downstairs region.
We really can't figure out a way to make it sound less weird so we'll just say it: It has giant sperm. This next image is in no way edited or Photoshopped -- it's a scale picture. Fly in the center, its sperm looped around it:
That's not a sperm, that's a freaking bullwhip.
Now the fact that somewhere out there is a creature that has to force out a sperm many times as long as its body is terrifying in itself. But we're just scratching the surface.
After all, you figure that surely the female must be a huge hulking example of the species to even be able to fit a sperm longer than the freaking male of the species inside of ... oh we can't even finish this sentence it's just too weird. Show the damn picture.
There is no god.
Just what -- that ... holy crap, how does that even ... wait ... it's longer than the female too so that must mean... the female of the species has an equally as long and terrifying reproductive tract. So all you guys and ladies reading this, just imagine being a fruit fly and consider that a six-foot-tall male would have a sperm 120-feet long. If your brain has rightly prevented that image from entering your mind, take a look here.
Guys, imagine this crane flying out of your Johnson. Ladies, imagine if being courted meant that it chased you through the streets.
A Fungus the Size of a Small Airport
Picture a fungus. Maybe you have some growing in your basement.
Awww, it's so cute!
Now picture Central Park in New York.
Awww, it's so cute!
Now imagine a single fungus as big as three Central Parks.
Now, this is somewhat difficult to wrap your head around, since we typically think of a living thing as being a single entity, like a dog or a burrito. And since not everyone is a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan and thus doesn't have the Borg to fall back on when the word "collective" is thrown around, we'll explain.
When you see mushrooms, you're not seeing the whole organism. The fungus spreads underground, sending out roots that grow up into mushrooms here and there.
So, scientists discovered that honey mushrooms growing in a forest in eastern Oregon were genetically identical. Once they began probing around they discovered that the mycelia -- the roots of the fungus, which also make up most for the actual living fungus -- was spread over an area covering 2,200 acres, or about 3.5 square miles. It's a single living thing, but it'd take you more than half an hour to walk from one end of it to the other.
That's enough to cover most of this section of New York City.
And that's actually not the strangest thing about it.
The fungus is believed to be about 2,400-years old. Yep. It has outlasted the Romans and was devouring dead rodents before Jesus was said to be turning bread into fish.
Though there may be one life form more impressive than that: the Pando tree grove. It's one tree, sprouting out multiple trunks all connected by the same mass of roots. But it covers 107 acres and fills an astonishing 6,615 tons of mass.
All one tree.
That's the equivalent of 33 blue whales, or 76,492 adult human men. Oh, and it's thought to be 80,000-years old. Entire species came into existence and died off in this thing's lifespan. Mankind's entire rise and fall as an advanced civilization is a blink in Pando's eye.
And yet, all we can think about is that giant fly sperm.
For more animals that will make you hyperventilate through the seat of your pants, check out 13 Real Animals Lifted Directly From Your Nightmares and 5 Adorable Animals That Are Turning to the Dark Side.
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