Skip To Content
  • Holidays Make Us Feel Good badge

Here's 13 Creepy Science Facts That'll Freak You Out, But Don't Worry, There's Also 14 To Make You Feel Better

Let's go on this roller-coaster ride together.

Here's how it works: Every odd-numbered fact is creepy, unsettling, or otherwise disturbing, and each even-numbered one is wholesome and all-around heartwarming. You can choose one category and skip everything else, or read 'em all and embrace chaos.

1. Let's start with something creepy (and crawly). Your body is covered with thousands of microscopic mites, and they have sex on your face while you're asleep.

2. Ew, gross. Why talk about that when we could talk about the fact that polar bears communicate by rubbing their noses together?

3. Polar bears are fine, I guess, but not nearly as interesting as Mike the Headless Chicken, who survived for a year and a half missing exactly what you think he was.

4. Then again, it may be worth focusing on the fact that researchers at UC Davis discovered that couples' hearts beat in sync.

Two women embrace at their wedding party

5. Cute. Now let's talk about the end of the world. One hypothetical (...for now) doomsday scenario is called gray goo. It involves tiny robots designed to replicate themselves going haywire and producing more and more robot offspring until Earth is "reduced to a lifeless mass teeming with nanomachines."

Some shiny grey goo, with caption: this one is totally hypothetical so imagine this shiny goopy is a DEADLY ROBOT SWARM

6. Quick, someone call Lucy, because there's a diamond in the sky. (Thank you for asking, but no, I don't regret that joke.)

a night sky, with caption: pictured, a space diamond, maybe

7. This is a cone snail. The cone snail wants you dead. Well, actually, they're "not aggressive," until an "unwitting shell collector" picks one up, at which point they will deliver a venomous sting that in some of the over 800 species is strong enough to kill an adult human. The deadliest cone snail of all is nicknamed the "cigarette snail," because if you get stung by one, you have just enough time to enjoy one final cigarette before perishing.

A cone snail in the water

8. In a move that was equal parts effective and adorable, the National Audubon's Seabird Restoration Program used wooden decoys to lure "gregarious" puffins back to Maine's islands. Some of the birds even imitated their new wooden friends' "one-legged" stance.

A puffin lifts his leg, just like his new friend, a wooden decoy.

9. In much less fun news, there exists a sleep disorder called "exploding head syndrome," and while it's not as gory as it sounds, it's definitely unpleasant.

10. On the plus side, Stanford researchers have discovered that mealworms can consume various types of plastic and still be safe for other animals to eat. This means they may help humanity solve our "giant plastics problem."

11. Around 19 million years ago, a massive extinction event decimated the global shark population. Over a period of timing lasting less than 100,000 years, 90% of the Earth's sharks were killed, and 70% of shark species went extinct. And researchers don't know why.

A great white shark swimming above a school of fish

12. Bummer. But one scientific mystery we have solved is the question of why bunnies binky. This adorable term refers to rabbits leaping in the air and twisting their bodies, and they do it when they feel happy and comfortable.

13. Unsettlingly, Marie Curie's notebooks and personal papers are still radioactive more than 100 years after her death, and will remain so for many centuries to come.

14. Wonderfully, a study showed that cows have best friends. When they're in the presence of their bovine buddy, cows are calmer and smarter.

Two cows nuzzling each other

15. LSD is a "derivative" of ergot, a fungus found in rye grain, and there's a theory that ergot poisoning is what caused the disastrous mass hysteria that led to the 1692 Salem Witch Trials.

16. The unique relationship humans share with their dogs stretches back 11,000 years. Scientists discovered that in Europe, there were five different types of dog with "distinct genetic ancestries" hanging out with the hunter-gatherers.

17. These little critters are golden poison frogs, and they may be some of the "most poisonous animals alive." Their bodies, no longer than 6 centimeters at their largest, contain enough poison to kill 10 adult men.

Two golden poison frogs in captivity

18. Speaking of dogs, and definitely not deadly frogs, you might notice your furry friend sneezing when they're playing. They do this to signal that they're having fun and not taking any fighting seriously.

Two puppies play wrestle

19. One spooky scientific quandary is that of "nuclear semiotics," or the question of how to communicate to far future generations the danger of nuclear waste when all forms of language and symbols known to us today may be unrecognizable.

Yellow drums painted with the nuclear waste symbol

20. "Octopus's Garden" by the Beatles is a more scientifically accurate song title than you might expect. These sea creatures really do make gardens.

A large octopus poking out from its den

21. A much less pleasant locale is Ilha da Queimada Grande, which may be one of the deadliest islands on the planet. Located off the coast of Brazil, it hosts between 2,000 and 4,000 golden lancehead vipers. The species is critically endangered and exceptionally deadly, and a bite can kill a person in less than hour.

A golden lancehead snake

22. This is one of the best facts I know: Koko, a gorilla who became famous for her ability to communicate using over 1,000 signs from American Sign Language, absolutely adored kittens. She asked for one for Christmas in 1983, but when her carers presented her with a stuffed animal instead, Koko refused to play with it and kept signing "sad."

All Ball the kitten standing on Koko's back

23. And this is one of the worst: By the time you've developed rabies symptoms, the disease is virtually 100% fatal.

A doctor fills a needle with rabies vaccine

24. Against all odds, something actually good happened in 2020. (That's not the fact, but it could be.) A coral reef taller than the Empire State Building was discovered in Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

a scuba diver observes coral in the great barrier reef

25. And finally: The last victim of smallpox was a British medical photographer named Janet Parker, who was accidentally exposed to the virus at the medical school where she worked. The story of her illness and death is, as you might expect, extraordinarily grim.

A sign on a hospital fence reading Smallpox Keep Out

26. And finally (again): The two Voyager spacecrafts that NASA launched in 1977 could drift through space for "trillions of trillions of years," long after the end of humanity and the collision of the Milky Way with the Andromeda galaxy. That means the two Golden Records attached to them will carry evidence of human existence and achievement to parts of the universe we can't even imagine.

The two golden records before their long journeys

27. You made it to the end, so here's a bonus wholesome fact for you. Quokkas are Australia's smallest species of wallaby. Their babies are called joeys, and they mostly live on Rottnest Island, which is off the coast of Perth. The fun part of this fun fact is, of course, the fact that quokkas exist.

A smiling quokka on Rottnest Island