Mother nature has proven time and time again to have a talent for breathtaking beauty, so perhaps it’s fitting that she also has the ability to create creatures that are truly bizarre, and at times, quite terrifying. It’s not just the appearance of these animals that can unsettle us humans, but their behavior as well…
From weird ways of defending themselves to seemingly nonsensical mating rituals, you have to wonder what mother nature was thinking when she came up with these animals. If you want proof that the animal kingdom is strange and terrifying, look no further!
1. There’s a reason why this creature is called the “horror frog” (Trichobatrachus robustus). He goes out of his way to break his own bones, producing claws that break their way out of his toe pads.
2. There’s a new super-villain in town, and he even has a cape! This creature is called a blanket octopus, and he’s the closest thing to an evil genius that the ocean has. Not only is he somehow immune to the stings of a Portuguese man o’ war but he can rip off their stingers and use them as a whip! Their method of breeding is even crazier, as the male fills one of his tentacles with sperm, rips it off, and gives it to the female for fertilization. Gross!
3. If you hate vomit, you’ll really hate the chicks of the Fulmar, a kind of Western European seabird. When these animals feel like they’re in danger, they puke out a fowl-smelling, sticky orange oil, which glues together the feathers of the would-be predator to the point where they can’t even fly. What’s worse, when the predators go into the ocean to wash off the oil, the oil makes them lose their buoyancy, so they drown to death.
4. Normal tarantulas are bad enough, thank you very much, but these ones are infected by a parasitic fungus from Asia that has to ability to literally control minds.
5. This is a Pacu, a South American freshwater fish that some people believe eats human testicles. That’s actually incorrect, as the claim is based on a misunderstood joke, but those human-looking teeth still look wrong.
6. Sharks kill just 10 people per year, so they’ve got nothing on cows, which kill 100 people each year by stepping on them! Now we know who we really need to be afraid of.
7. Oh wait, sharks are still scary. Especially a shark with a smaller shark hiding inside his mouth.
8. Larger, aquatic species of flatworms mate by having two “males” fence each other with their penises, which are forked into two branches. The loser who gets stabbed with the winner’s penis becomes female, while the winner remains male.
9. If you think that the weirdest thing about the Pyura chilensis (which is actually an animal found off the coast of Chile and Peru) is the fact that it looks like a rock full of gored flesh, you’d be wrong. First of all, it never moves, and gets all of the nourishment it needs by eating micro-organisms that it filters out by sucking in water. It secretes vanadium, a rare element, from its clear blood. EachPyura chilensis becomes a hermaphrodite at puberty, even though they are born male. But the weirdest part is how they mate: they throw clouds of eggs and sperm and just hoping that they crash into each other.
10. The Russell’s viper, found in several different parts of Asia, is the snake responsible for the highest number of biting incidents and deaths among venomous snakes worldwide. What’s worse, they often are found in areas highly populated by humans, and as you can see, the effects of its venom can be quite brutal.
11. If you think biting your tongue is bad, check out this parasitic fish (found in parts of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans) called the cymothoa exigua, also known, appropriately, as the tongue-eating louse. He eats fish tongues, plants himself on the stump where the tongue once was, and pretends to be the fish’s tongue for the rest of his life.
12. That horrifying swelling in her eye must have developed over one too many nights without sleep, right? Wrong! The larva of a botfly, which can be found worldwide, is living in her flesh. Sleep tight!
13. In ancient times, war pigs were used to fight against, of all things, war elephants, which feared the squealing pigs and ran away in terror. Worse yet, humans often tried to make the pigs even more horrifying by lighting them on fire.
14. For reasons that were unknown at the time, over a thousand toads grew to three times their original size and exploded in Hamburg, Germany in 2006. Initially, people thought that it was a new virus, but here’s what really happened: local crows realized that they could peck out the frog’s delicious and nutritious liver without eating the poisonous part of their skin. So really, we have to fear crows, not frogs!
15. When you get a group of coconut crabs together, the collective noun is called a “nightmare,” and for good reason. Found on several islands throughout the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific Ocean, they have three-foot leg spans, which make them the largest arthropods in the world. They also have been known to climb trees in the islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans where they live. Worst of all, they have been seen eating kittens and chickens.
16. Shark teeth aren’t technically teeth at all: they’re scales, giving sharks the ability to infinitely grow them back.
17. If you’re the kind of maniac that wants to make bears even scarier, try shaving them. Sadly, though, that’s not how this bear went bald. All of the bespectacled bears in a zoo in Leipzig, Germany have mysteriously developed a condition that caused them to lose their hair.
It’s difficult to determine which of these animals is the most unsettling, but given the fact that it actually knows how to use a weapon, I’d go with the blanket octopus. Which one do you think is the scariest?