Every year, scientists discover tens of thousands of new creatures, most of which are cuddly and/or wuddly. However, every once in a while we uncover a species so vile and so contrary to all that we consider precious and good that it makes us seriously wonder if all this exploration nonsense is worth the hassle. Horrors such as ...
Most millipedes are not particularly adorable. They're a little disgusting, but they're not terribly threatening. They're just kinda ... there, waiting to gross out schoolgirls or be eaten by birds. Except, of course, for the shocking pink dragon millipede. Woe be to the bird that comes near one of these guys. Woe be to any animal, honestly. The thing isn't hot pink because it likes 'Legally Blonde' -- the bright color is a warning that this thing secretes cyanide.
It was first discovered in 2007, and scientists quickly learned that the shocking pink dragon millipede, while looking like a half-chewed piece of Laffy Taffy, was anything but sweet and tasty. It does have a pleasant, almond-like smell to it, but that's just because it has a series of defensive glands that ironically spew almond-scented cyanide. You might remember cyanide as one of the deadliest poisons on Earth, and one of the last things you should ever let near your skin.
This is a creature so potent and dangerous that, although it does have a Latin name (Desmoxytes purpurosea), even the man who discovered it uses the casual name. As Henrik Enghoff explained, "We think that such an unusually colored, conspicuous millipede deserves more than a Latin name and suggest calling it 'the shocking pink dragon millipede.'" Man, even Tyrannosaurus rex couldn't swing "giant roaring sharp-toothed death lizard." That's some serious science street cred right there.
There's a good reason Bruce Wayne dresses like a bat when he wants to scare the you know what out of some bad guys: Bats are scary. And back in 2005, science added one more to the creepy pile: Anoura fistulata, the Ecuadorian tube-lipped nectar bat. And with a name like "fistulata," you know it ain't gonna be pretty.
Now, compared to some of the other horror shows we've displayed in the past, this little guy isn't so bad at first glance. Kinda stupid and inbred-looking, for sure, like Larry the Cable Bat, but not terrifying. But then it opens its mouth:
Why yes, that is its tongue. And yes, it is longer than its entire body. In fact, this guy has the longest tongue (in relation to body size) of any mammal on Earth. It's 3.5 inches, while the rest of the body is only 2. That means its tongue is one and a half times the total length of its whole body. That's like a human being sporting a 9-foot tongue -- even Gene Simmons has to admit that's a bit unattractive.
Not ready to run off screaming just yet? Well, get this: Like many bats, these guys have the ability to hover like a hummingbird, which means that if you wake up in the middle of the night to a wet tickle on your forehead, you'll find that good ol' fisty here is able to maintain unceasing, disconcerting eye contact while delicately kissing your forehead.
Discovered a thousand feet beneath the sea off the coast of the Philippines, this is Dinochelus ausubeli. "Dinochelus" translates to "terrible claw," which, if anything, is an understatement.
That monstrous claw is designed for exactly what it looks like it's designed for -- cold-blooded murder. Because this lobster is totally blind, it uses its elongated claw to reach out and grab prey, using its teeth almost like a wheat thresher before happily feasting away. This begs the question: Why only one huge claw? Clearly, the small claw is redundant and useless, since the gigantic claw could catch prey both near and far. Using the small claw is like the Power Rangers using their Zords solo. Come on, guys ... you resort to Megazord in, like, 100 percent of your successful battles -- just skip the middleman already.
Oh, and the ocean's not done unveiling its horrifying secrets to us. Just a couple years before the arm-wrestling lobster up there came to light, scientists discovered the Kiwa hirsuta, or Yeti crab. It is literally impossible for a more accurate name to exist.
The Yeti crab may look huggable, but it turns out all that fur is actually a natural filtering system used to collect the swirling filth all around it. Once collected, it filters out the bacteria, raises it to whatever the bacterial version of maturity is, and then eats it when ready. In short, that hair is a landfill, a farm, and a dinner table at the same time.
And that's what the deep sea thinks "snuggly" is? We'd hate to see its version of terrifying.
Which is coming up next, obviously ...
The deep sea is made almost entirely out of wrong. It seems everything that lives more than a few thousand feet below the water's placid surface was concocted by the maddest of the old gods on his worst day. For example, this little miracle, which takes the worst and most repulsive features of both worms and squids and concocts something even more heinous than the sum of its already quite heinous parts.
Discovered over a mile under the surface of the Celebes Sea between Indonesia and the Philippines, this 4-inch cutie is technically known as Teuthidodrilus samae, but its friends call it the squidworm. If it had any. Which it obviously doesn't.
Seriously, look at that face. Why are there tentacles coming out of it, why are those tentacles as long as its actual body, and why are some of them curly? The answer to all of those questions is, of course, a faint, high-pitched scream.
Those face-tentacles actually serve a real purpose beyond ensuring that you never eat calamari again. Namely, helping the worm to breathe -- with an extra few tentacles reserved for eating delicious marine snow, which generally consists of "fecal material, dead animals, [and] cast off mucus."
Oh, and there are also six pairs of feathers buried in that hot mess that serve as its nose for reasons God forgot just as soon as the glue-high wore off. Scientists noted that squidworms have both "seabed-dwelling and free-swimming characteristics," meaning they inhabit the ill-defined space between the sea floor and the surface. A sort of oceanic purgatory, if you will. This suggests that the squidworm may be a transitional species, evolving as we speak toward securing a more permanent ecological niche, whatever that may be.
We're going to go ahead and assume it's your soul.
Meet Megalara garuda, a species of wasp discovered in 2011 around the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. It's dubbed the "Komodo dragon of wasps," and in case you couldn't figure out why from the close-up pic, perhaps this will help:
Pants shat yet? M. garuda is around 2.5 inches long, which you'll recognize as 2.5 inches longer than any wasp should be. Also, it's venomous, like all of God's favorite children. But sheer size and a bit of venom isn't the impressive bit. No, it's those jaws that make it stand out in the crowd ... and then cause that entire crowd to run screaming into their basements and stay there forever.
Those jaws aren't a trick of forced perspective -- they're longer than the wasp's front legs, they're bigger than its entire face, and they can wrap around its head when the mouth is closed.
So what do those jaws do exactly, besides make grown men weep like children? No one knows for sure, because Jesus still sort of loves us, and researchers have yet to find a living specimen. However, there are a few theories: They could be used for defense, guarding larvae, or even grasping unwilling females during copulation. Isn't that nice?