6 Natural Wonders That Are Creepier Than Any Horror Movie
If hockey-masked machete murderers and chainsaw-swinging hillbillies send you squealing into the giant pile of teddy bears on your bed, it's time to toughen up, milksop. If you can't handle those tame and entirely fictional horror shows, you are in no way prepared for the true master of terror: Mother Nature. Step one foot outside, and you're instantly guest-starring in a slasher film full of messed-up scenes like ...
The Deer Decapitations
Please observe this majestic work of nature, the deer hydra:
Jeff Foxworthy's early attempts at ventriloquism were met with mixed reviews.
That rotting husk on the right is the decomposing, decapitated head of a white-tailed buck, removed in battle by its rival and carried aloft in the victor's antlers as a warning to any who might challenge its dominance. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, inspired by the Viking-like scene of brutal combat prowess, reported the event on Facebook with unnerving gusto, observing, "It was truly a rare harvest!!!"
And this was not a fluke. A similar scenario played out near the bustling Mecca of Walhalla, North Dakota.
And here's an elk waving the remains of its vanquished foe around like the Predator:
Here's another North Dakotan incident with a happier ending. After taking a few photographs, the person who discovered the aftermath of this grisly duel untangled the antlers and freed the creature, unaware that they'd just started the next sequel in the Deer Micheal Myers movies.
The Wasp That Tortures Spiders
The South American Anelosimus eximius is a "social" spider. Not in the sense that they enjoy stopping by each other's homes to dish over a hot cup of fly innards, but because they live together in massive swarms and build hideously expansive communal webs. Like so:
That's remarkably unpleasant, sure, but in this story, the spiders are actually the victims. Because what's the only thing worse than a spider?
Zatypota start the process by surreptitiously laying an egg on the abdomen of a spider. After hatching, the larvae attaches itself to the host and sucks out the delicious haemolymph (a fancy name for spider blood) until they grow weary of the diabolical charade. Assuming control of the near-empty vessel, the larva then make the spider spin a cocoon for the both of them, so the final act of the savage play can be completed in privacy.
Turkeys Circle Roadkill Like A Cult Ritual
Ah, the humble turkey -- goofy-looking, gobbles, tastes good with gravy. What else do we know about them? Oh yeah, they form death cults and conduct elaborate rituals in the service of Paimon, one of the eight Princes of Hell.
That video above is of a dead cat in the road being circled clockwise by a rafter of turkeys. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which this incident does not portend some manner of cataclysm. Just as some animals become agitated prior to a seismic event, do turkeys perform unholy rites to signal the coming of the End Times? Laugh if you want, but there's no denying their propensity for Linda Blair shit.
"The power of tryptophan compels you!"
According to a biologist at the University of California at Davis, the turkeys are performing what's known as a "predator inspection," which is how some prey species let a potential attacker know that they're aware of its presence. It's intended to gauge the level of threat being faced, and it's sometimes enough to scare a predator away. So either the turkeys' instincts misfired at the sight of an already-dead cat, or ... something else. Something sinister and undeniably Lovecraftian ...
[subtitle]The Ant That Decorates Its Nests With The Skulls of Its Enemies[/subtitle]
In a 2018 study published in Insectes Sociaux, Adrian Smith of North Carolina State University described the peculiar habits of the Formica archboldi ants. Scientists have been aware of them for the last six decades or so, but are only now informing the public about them, because apparently, no one in science felt that we could "handle our shit."
To be fair, we can not.
Formica archboldi specializes in hunting the carnivorous and all-around nasty trap-jaw ant. First, it coats itself with a waxy chemical secretion to bamboozle the trap-jaws into thinking it's one of them. Then, when their guard is down, the archiboldi chooses its target and unleashes a spray of goddamn acid. Because nature is the most inventive serial killer, the acid merely immobilizes the trap-jaw, leaving the devious ant free to drag its victim away for some quality time that is almost certain to involve dismemberment.
Oh, also good ol' archiboldi likes to collect skulls. Some of the ants just leave them lying around, while others collect them in a heap outside the nest. Scientists aren't quite sure why, outside of "This ant is clearly fucked up in the head."
The Maine Bloodworm Shoots Its Mouth Out Like A Xenomorph
The Maine bloodworm is so named because, of course, it lives in Maine. Oh, and also because the hemoglobin in its blood shows through its pale skin. It's a creamy pink monstrosity that launches its own mouth right out of its goddamn head.
The thing prolapsing out of its head, presumably searching for Ellen Ripley, is a parapodia. Oh, and its four jaws are all metallic. It's the only known organism that incorporates metal alloys into its body, and researchers have no idea how they do it, though they have not ruled out "alien cyborgs."
Bonus fun: These little monsters are both venomous and carnivorous. Though the venom is harmful to humans, it won't kill you. However, it will definitely sting pretty bad, and it might turn you into the bloodworm's brainwashed minion. They're actually prized bait for fishing, and people make decent money farming these things, presumably because so few possess the hubris required to harvest the offspring of the blood gods.
The Faceless Toad Is Up And Moving
Back in 1945, Mike the Headless Chicken enraptured the nation, living for a whopping 18 months with no fucking head. That is, uh, "cute" and all, but another creature wants a share of the limelight: the faceless toad.
Herpetologist Jill Fleming and some colleagues were out in the woods collecting information on newts when they had the misfortune to encounter this monster instead. Despite its missing jaw, eyes, nose, and tongue, this guy was somehow still alive and hopping around.
No definite explanation has been given for just what happened here, but there are multiple hypotheses, all of which are equally terrifying. Fleming speculates that a predator found the toad during hibernation, began to eat it, then found itself full or something and just left after devouring the face. Lydia Franklinos, a seasoned wildlife veterinarian, suggested the toad's gory state may be been the work of a flesh-eating fly. A mama fly laid her egg in the toad's mouth, and after it hatched, the larvae ate away the toad's face. We suppose these explanations should elicit some kind of sympathy for the toad, but as a counterpoint: Kill it. Kill it with fire.
E. Reid Ross has a couple books, Nature Is The Worst: 500 Reasons You'll Never Want To Go Outside Again and Canadabis: The Canadian Weed Reader, both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Pauli Poisuo is on Facebook and Twitter. Go say hi.
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