Image: via Toolito
Image: via Toolito
Nature’s variety is truly wondrous. Our beautiful planet is teeming with many things bright and beautiful and creatures great and small. Unfortunately, it’s also home to plenty of terrifying life forms that would give even the bravest nature lover nightmares. Some of these abominable animals are deadly in their own environments but harmless to humans, while others pose a very real danger to us. One thing they all have in common, though, is that they sure ain’t pretty. Let’s take a look – through your fingers if you prefer – at 20 of nature’s most nightmarish creations.
20. Promachoteuthis Sulcus
Why, nature, why? Squids are weird-looking creatures to begin with, but Promachoteuthis sulcus turns things up a notch with its horribly human-like mouth. Don’t be fooled into thinking those are teeth, though; they’re actually lips – so that’s okay then. Right?
Image: Mike Keeling
19. Cicada Killer
The cicada killer’s sheer size alone makes it an object of horror for some, but on the rare occasions that this wasp does sting humans it causes little lasting damage. It’s a different story if you’re a cicada, though, because that sting will cause paralysis – before the wasp takes its victim back to its lair to use as a convenient all-in-one egg incubator and baby food store.
18. Goliath Birdeater
The Goliath birdeater may not be quite the most sizable spider on the planet in terms of leg span, yet it is the heaviest, with some specimens tipping the scales at six ounces. And although the second part of this fearsome-looking creature’s name is a bit misleading – it tends to dine on worms and toads rather than birds – its chunky, 11-inch leg span and capacity to flick irritation-inducing hairs at people may well help make it the stuff of nightmares for many.
Madagascan folklore has it that the goblin-like aye-aye is a bad omen and can kill humans just by pointing at them with one of its elongated fingers – although the digit actually only brings death to the tree-dwelling grubs that this member of the lemur family eats. In fact, the aye-aye’s odd appearance and bad PR have seen it hunted to the point where it is now classed as an endangered species.
Image: via The Frisky
16. Wolf Fish
Wolf fish are unpredictable creatures. Some are timid, while others are so fierce that they have been known to jump out of the water onto shore or even into boats to savage their prey. Scarier still, there have been several tales from South America of the fearsome-looking fish attacking and injuring people and dogs.
Image: via Top Ten Animals
15. Wrinkle-Faced Bat
Thanks to a face that’s covered with skin flaps – which it is thought may help focus this critter’s sonar – the wrinkle-faced bat is never going to win any beauty contests. And like nature’s very own phantom of the opera, it also has a flesh “mask,” which stretches over its face when it goes for some urgently needed beauty sleep.
Image: Thailand Wildlife
14. Shocking Pink Dragon Millipede
The biggest millipede of its genus, the shocking pink dragon has a fearsome quality that isn’t lessened one bit by its simply darling pink hue or the scrumptious natural almond perfume that some say it exudes. This spiny critter isn’t pink because it wants to look fabulous, though; its color is a warning to predators, because that scent comes from the cyanide it produces to put off predators.
Image: via Turkiye Forumlari
13. Goblin Shark
The aptly-named goblin shark has a face for radio and a nose that makes it look as if it’s told one lie too many – perhaps on its Tinder account. The good news is that it’s not known to be violent toward humans, and it lives at such depths – with a face like that, wouldn’t you? – that it has rarely been sighted in its natural habitat.
Image: via Royal Society of Biology/Jedimentat44
12. Naked Mole Rat
The naked mole rat may possess teeth that can gnaw through concrete, and it might look a little like some sort of rodent answer to an Egyptian mummy, but mercifully this East African creature shows no aggression toward humans and prefers to live a mostly subterranean existence. Creepily, though, this critter’s society has an insect-like colony structure featuring worker rats that serve a dominant rat queen.
Image: via the two-way
11. Frilled Shark
The frilled shark is a survivor from another age, a living fossil with a touch of the eel about it. Owing to its rarity, we don’t really know much about the frilled shark, but its weirdly primal, slightly phallic form is enough to stir up nightmares – possibly of the Freudian variety.
Image: via Youtube/Epic Wildlife
10. Star-Nosed Mole
It may look like this star-nosed mole is the host of some sort of alien parasite seeking fresh brains with its malevolent tentacles – but those “rays,” as they’re known, are actually highly-adapted sensory organs that help the mole find prey even at the bottom of river beds. The star-nosed mole is almost completely blind – which probably helps matters during mating season.
Image: via mental_floss
9. Sarcastic Fringehead
Despite its name, the sarcastic fringehead fish comes armed with more than just the lowest form of wit. Indeed, it looks as though the Predator and Jaws got together and conceived an angry parachute. Aggressive, lacking fear and fiercely territorial, this Pacific fish uses its unusual jaws to scare or fight off attackers and “mouth wrestle” with rivals. It has also been known to take the odd bite out of scuba divers who’ve not taken it seriously enough.
Image: YouTube/Epic Wildlife
8. Coconut Crab
“Honey, I’m just taking the trash out… Honey, we’re emigrating.” Found on various islands across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the coconut crab is the planet’s biggest land-living arthropod and a walking nightmare to anyone who’s allergic to shellfish. Notwithstanding its fearsome appearance, this colossal crab doesn’t typically show aggression toward humans, but its menacing claws are used to crack open coconuts, so do the math.
Image: Brian J. Skerry
7. Humboldt Squid
Known for its large size and the aggression it shows toward humans, the Humboldt squid is called the “red devil” by Mexican fishermen. If caught, it may spray ink or water at humans, but it’s the creature’s arms, each bristling with up to 200 teeth-lined suckers, that you really have to watch out for.
Image: via Animalia Life
6. Northern Stargazer
The northern stargazer is an ambush predator that waits on the seabed, cleverly disguised as some sort of sharp-toothed, bug-eyed bringer of doom. This freaky-looking death mask is the last thing that some of the smaller – and dimmer – members of the underwater community see as the terrifying fish behind it sucks them into its mouth. Let’s hope that they never discover a giant variety.
Image: via imgur
5. Whip Spider
Put down the flamethrower. What looks like a real-life alien facehugger crawling out of an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare is actually an arachnid incapable of stinging, biting or otherwise harming humans. Whip spiders are, however, deadly predators to insects, using as they do mantis-like limbs known as pedipalps to catch and crush prey.
Image: via North Wales Bug Blog
4. Lobster Moth Caterpillar
The lobster moth and its larval form are both harmless to humans, but with its bulging butt and rearing forelegs, the species’ gnarly-looking caterpillar resembles something that just hitchhiked to Earth on a spacecraft. It hasn’t come in peace, either: the caterpillar aggressively attacks other diminutive insects that dare to come too close.
Image: via Peopletalk
Primitive but effective, the lamprey is a jawless fish that evolved before the dinosaurs. Oh, and those teeth aren’t just for show. Basically a power tool with eyes, this stuff of nightmares lurks in rivers around the world and uses its circular, tooth-bristling mouth to grab onto and gouge into the flesh of passing animals, fish and humans. Why? In order to drink their blood, dummy.
2. Vampire Deer
You’d be forgiven for thinking that digital trickery was involved in creating this image of the Kashmir musk deer, but it’s the real deal. The “vampire deer” is a bloodthirsty-looking creature with a pair of retractable fangs. Yet while it may appear dangerous, the deer only uses those fangs in confrontations with rivals. It actually poses no threat to humans; in fact, it’s the other way around, as the musk-filled scent glands of this mammal are worth significantly more than their weight in gold – meaning that the endangered species is under constant threat from poachers.
Image: via DeepSeaCreatures.org
The epitome of undersea horror, the anglerfish looks like it belongs on another planet – and it might as well be on one, given that it lives at depths of 3,000 feet in the dark abyss of the ocean. There, it – or the female, at any rate – uses the bio-luminescent “fishing” lure extending from its head to draw luckless prey into that horrific maw. What a way to go.