Sometimes real life can seem even more disturbing than the deepest, bleakest depths of our imagination. Some of the creatures that exist in nature today, for example, look like they’d be more at home slithering around the set of a Hollywood movie. Indeed, they’re living proof that Mother Nature has the darkest of dark sides – so get ready to meet 20 actual monsters that deserve their very own screenplay.
20. Atlantic Wolffish
The Atlantic wolffish is bigger than the other members of the wolffish family – and that definitely makes its mouth even scarier. Not only are there multiple strips of molars and canine-like incisors in there, but this fanged fish also has teeth lining its throat. Eek!
19. Wrinkle-faced Bat
The wrinkle-faced bat – or Centurio senex – of Central and South America has a particularly gruesome resting habit: it can stretch its weird chin skin-flaps entirely over its face. This odd-looking visage, though, apparently helps give it a surprisingly powerful 28-tooth bite to feast on fruit.
18. Frilled Shark
The frilled shark, with its ruffled gills, hundreds of teeth and eel-like body, bears a disturbing resemblance to the chestburster from Alien. Although sightings of this prehistoric predator are thankfully rare today, one terrifying specimen was nevertheless caught off the coast of Australia in early 2015.
Image: via Avax News
17. Venezuelan Poodle Moth
The Venezuelan poodle moth sounds like a ready-made B movie villain and looks like one to boot. Indeed, the black eyeballs bulging out of its furry head and those horn-like feelers present altogether so strange a sight that, when it was discovered in 2009, the insect was originally thought to have been just the creation of an internet prankster.
Image: Francesco Costa
16. Sloane’s Viperfish
The ferocious fangs of the deep sea-found Sloane’s viperfish protrude out of its gaping mouth to spear its prey as it hurtles at full speed toward them, all while its backbone absorbs the blow. Those unnerving hinged jaws, meanwhile, enable it to consume bigger quarry.
15. Goliath Bird-eating Spider
The 11-inch-wide Goliath bird-eating spider is one arachnid that can’t be squashed with one stamp of a shoe. This titanic tarantula lives in the South American rainforests with its venomous fangs and some irritating bristles that can be shed at will.
14. Lithodes Maja
The giant Lithodes maja king crab of the North Atlantic is extremely well armored, thanks to a sturdy shell studded with spikes. And while any one of its prickly legs look dangerous, it’s the front right claw – the biggest of them all – that is particularly lethal.
Image: Damien du Toit
13. Giant Isopod
The giant isopod certainly puts the “creepy” into creepy crawly. The beastly bug can grow up to 16 inches long with four pairs of jaws and eyes that seemingly glow in the dark. Take it out of the dark, though, and it’ll lose its sight.
Image: Klaus Stiefel
12. Mantis Shrimp
The multicolored mantis shrimp of the Indo-Pacific Ocean has an extraterrestrial look, and its incredible eyesight is out of this world as well. Even more worrying, though, is the mantis shrimp’s ability to punch its way through glass – a terrifying trait that could make it a shoo-in to play a nasty movie monster.
Image: Graham Wise
Amblypygids are a nightmarish mix of scorpion and spider. The multi-legged creatures live in temperate climates and find their food at night; a successful hunt will see their pincers open up their prey while they feed on it with their spider-like fangs.
The gharial stalks much of India with a chainsaw-like mouth holding over a hundred sharp teeth. Plus, its extraordinary snout can strike quickly to ensnare its prey before it rises to the surface to gulp its victim down whole. Not a creature, it’s fair to say, that anyone would relish encountering.
Image: Drew Avery
9. Coconut Crab
The coconut crab lives on land around the Indian and Pacific oceans and can measure three feet from claw to claw. But it’s not just the crustacean’s size that makes it so terrifying; nightmarishly, it can also scale a tree in search of food.
Image: Linda Tanner
There’s something very disturbing about a fish that has the teeth of a human, including canines, incisors and molars. Even with its mouth shut, though, the sheepshead is easy to spot in the North American waters thanks to its vibrant sections of color.
7. Japanese Spider Crab
The Japanese spider crab can be a 12-foot-wide, 41-pound beast that, frighteningly, lives for a century. Amazingly, it can stay alive even after losing three of its ginormous legs – and even has the altogether useful ability to regenerate its missing limbs.
Image: Jayvee Fernandez
6. Hairy Frogfish
The subtropical hairy frogfish uses its hind fins to slowly stalk along the seabed, while its hair-like spines allow it to lie camouflaged as a piece of coral. It also uses a process called aggressive mimicry to lead its unsuspecting prey to be devoured in an instant.
5. Japanese Giant Hornet
The two-inch-long Japanese giant hornet is undeniably deadly. The hellish hornet likes to attack en masse – indeed, a swarm of them are capable of ripping the heads off thousands of honeybees an hour with their jaws. As for the insect’s sting, it’s so venomous it can even dissolve human flesh.
4. Humpback Anglerfish
There are many species of anglerfish, but the female humpback anglerfish is arguably the most fascinating and terrifying of them all. The dorsal fin jutting out from its body attracts gullible prey – like a fishing rod – to its deadly jaws, while it can also bizarrely absorb half a dozen male humpback anglerfish into its body.
Image: NOAA Fisheries Service
3. Basking Shark
The basking shark is the U.K.’s answer to Jaws, and the 33-foot-long underwater giant is by far the biggest fish circling the British Isles. Its massive mouth is full of hundreds of pointy teeth – so be warned, British divers.
2. Star-nosed Mole
The star-nosed mole lives underground throughout North America and can gobble up its prey faster than any other mammal. What’s more, this alien-faced rodent uses the 22 sensitive fleshy feelers of its nose to recognize and sniff food in mere milliseconds.
1. Alligator Snapping Turtle
The scaly-skinned and spiky-shelled alligator snapping turtle looks every inch the prehistoric monster, with a tapered beak that can even carve through the flesh of its prey. And although the 175-pound creature looks like it should have come straight out of Jurassic Park, the truth is even more terrifying: it can be found today in the Gulf of Mexico.