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18 Nightmare Creatures That Are Too Scary To Exist, But Do

If you're squeamish or scared of spiders, proceed with caution.

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1. Japanese Mountain Leeches

A leech? Big whoop, right? WRONG. This guy isn't confined to bodies of water; instead, it hangs out in trees, flailing around to reach you, and then gnawing through your clothes to get to your skin.

3. Japanese Giant Hornet

You: Surely Mother Nature couldn't be so cruel as to create a hornet the size of your hand, that also has venom potent enough to dissolve human tissue.

Mother Nature: GUESS AGAIN.

4. Bleeding Tooth Fungus

Fungus is OK and all, but what if it looked like it was constantly hemorrhaging? Much better.


5. Bullet Ants

Smartse / Creative Commons

These ants, which are found through Nicaragua to Paraguay, are known by two different names. There's "bullet ant," which refers to the searing, throbbing pain caused by its sting; or there's the local term hormiga veinticuatro ("ant 24"), which refers to the span of 24 hours in which you'll be in that searing, throbbing pain. Also cool is that it can be over an inch long.

6. Zombie Fungus

Flickr: pennstatelive / Creative Commons

Technically it's called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, and what it does is infect a certain species of tropical tree ant, and then make it do its bidding. Once infected — or, possessed — the ant leaves its home, bites down on the major vein of a leaf, and then stays there until it dies and the fungus grows and flourishes. (THIS IS NOT SCI-FI. THIS IS REAL LIFE.)

7. Goliath Birdeater Spiders

Spiders are so scary, but at least they're never the the size of, say, a pupp—noooOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

8. Mexican Redknee Tarantula

George Chernilevsky / Creative Commons

You know what's scarier than a tarantula, though? A tarantula that will fling irritating bristles from its stomach and back legs at whatever or whoever disturbs it — which can then embed in the "attacker's" skin or EYES. Luckily, irritation in humans is usually minimal.


10. Anglerfish

Javontaevious / Creative Commons

There isn't anything the anglerfish does that makes it particularly scary — although the filament attached to its head that glows and leads its prey directly into its mouth is pretty crazy — but the fact that it looks like a monster your brain couldn't think up on its cruelest day lands it here.

11. Lampreys

Just a harmless eel, slithering about in the lake, right? THAT'S WHAT YOU THINK! The lamprey is hiding a nightmare mouth of concentric teeth, which they use to latch onto — and then feed on — their prey. Bonus: Their gills make it seem like they have nine eyes!!!!!!

12. Butcher Birds (aka Shrikes)

Butcher birds are sadistic little terrors, because they don't just kill their prey like normal predators: They impale them, on thorns, spikes, barbed-wire fences, or basically any sharp point. And it's not just bugs! They leave animals as big as lizards spiked on trees so that they can return to continue feasting later. NO THANKS.


14. Bobbitt Worm

Some might say the Bobbitt Worm is kind of pretty (so shiny!) but in reality it is a sneaky creature of the deep. It lives on the ocean floor, hiding most of its body under the sand, and waits patiently to strike with such speed and precision that its prey can sometimes be cut cleanly in half.

16. Rasberry Crazy Ant

Daniel Mietchen / Creative Commons

They're known as "crazy ants" because of their erratic movements, but that's not even the creepiest thing about them. The species is drawn to electricity, and have been known to swarm and cause electrical equipment to short-circuit, leaving a pile of ant corpses for whoever has to fix it.

17. Flying snakes

OK, it is technically more accurate to call them gliding snakes — the snake will slither to the end of a branch, fling itself off, and then undulate its body so that it glides down to the ground — but still: SNAKES. THAT SOAR THROUGH THE AIR. PROBABLY RIGHT ONTO YOUR HEAD.

18. Botfly

Flickr: dejeuxx / Creative Commons

Ah, the botfly. The holy grail for anyone who uses the internet to gross themselves out. (Seriously, search "botfly" on YouTube, and you'll find no shortage of results.) The Central and South American fly deposits its eggs on the skin of its host (in the case of the human botfly, humans), and the larva burrows itself underneath the skin, where they live until they are pulled out — ideally with the help of a medical professional, and usually by sealing off their breathing hole. (LOL the breathing hole is your skin; everything is terrible!)