By Molly Michelson
Are you ready for some frightful tales from nature? Enjoy, ghouls!
Spiders creep many of us out, and it’s quite possible they’ve been doing it for hundreds of millions of years. Earlier this month, researchers described the fossilized remains of a creature that crawled or swam in the ocean 520 million years ago. Dubbed “mega-claw,” this arthropod had a spider-like brain.
Did you hear about the flesh-eating spider that went on a killing rampage in the UK? As Gwen Pearson writes in Wired, these False Widow spiders are not at all dangerous, despite the media hype.
Here’s how National Geographic begins a recent article on flying spiders:
As if spiders aren’t unnerving enough, did you know that some of them use an electrostatic charge to leap into the air and fly for miles? They’re probably coming to your house.
Still not scared? How about goblin sharks? With spring-loaded jaws and needle-like teeth, I sure wouldn’t want to meet one in a cold, dark, deep sea. More terror in the sea comes from 10-foot long bobbitt worms and crazy, ugly blobfish.
Ok, tough guy. You made it this far in the article. I’m impressed. How about alien corpses? Researchers say that perhaps we’ll find dead ETs on exoplanets. From New Scientist:
… a glut of corpses produces a spike in the smelly gas methanethiol. This only hangs around for 350 years but it converts to the more persistent ethane. So a planet high in ethane could be a sign of a post-apocalyptic world, once home to complex life.
Sometimes it’s good to get a little scared. ScienceShot reports that scientists have determined that “a frightened earthworm is a plant’s best friend.” Beetles scare earthworms into deeper soils, releasing nutrients and water up toward growing plants. Really!
Actually, maybe all you need for a good scare is to look in the mirror. National Geographic traces the DNA of human monsters. Could your own genome hold some?
Trick or treat!
Pigbutt worm image: Karen Osborn/MBARI