Countless writers have conjured the scary monsters and dreadful creatures that have populated horror literature and film for generations. But they really needn’t have bothered. No monster dreamed up in the imaginations of mortal men can compare to the terrifyingly real beasts that spring forth into the world from the sick and twisted mind of Mother Nature herself. Here are 10 of Earth’s most bone-chilling animals, just in time for Halloween.
Habitat: Deep oceans throughout the world
Fun Fact: The deep sea is so vast, dark and unknowable, this list could consist solely of ocean creatures and have hundreds of examples. The anglerfish would still be the creepiest of all, though. Anglerfish have evolved a dangling, glowing lure on their heads that attracts their prey right into their terrible, toothy maws.
Habitat: Habitats with plentiful sagebrush
Fun Fact: These intimidating-looking birds remind us of those creepy skeksis from “The Dark Crystal,” although there’s nothing to fear from a Gunnison sage-grouse. They are named for their diet, which consists solely of sagebrush, and they are found only where the shrubs grow abundantly enough to support them.
NAKED MOLE RAT
Habitat: East African grasslands
Fun Fact: Laugh all you want at their looks, but you can’t keep a naked mole rat down. These creepy critters are virtually immune to cancer, and they can live nearly 30 years. Compare that to a regular rat’s average lifespan of 2 to 3 years.
PINK DRAGON MILLIPEDE
Habitat: Southeast Asia
Fun Fact: Imagine seeing one of these crawl across your bathroom floor. You probably won’t, but if you do, back away. They don’t just look creepy; they’re really dangerous. The pink dragon millipede’s glands actually ooze cyanide. Yes, really.
Habitat: In mouths, in place of tongues
Fun Fact: Cymothoa exigua is also known as the tongue-eating louse. Why? Because this parasite attaches itself to its host’s tongue, destroys the host’s tongue and then becomes the host’s new, living tongue — literally the stuff of nightmares.
Habitat: Tropical and subtropical areas in Central and South America
Fun Fact: Perhaps the definitive Halloween animal, vampire bats are so named because their primary food source is blood. Bram Stoker may not have specified what type of bat Count Dracula could transform into, but isn’t it obvious?
Next: Animals With Hard-to-Spell Names
Habitat: Oceans throughout the world
Fun Fact: The familiar octopus may not seem scary at first, until you remember that the head of the Lovecraftian elder god Cthulhu is itself that of an octopus! But seriously, octopuses won’t spread mass insanity and cosmic evil, although they are unsettlingly intelligent, demonstrating the capacity for long-term memory and problem solving. It may be only a matter of time before they rise up against us ...