When FDR uttered the immortal line: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” he clearly had not tangled with a crocodile, stumbled upon a King Cobra, or swam with a Great White shark. FDR was probably off his meds. Many horror films, if not all of them, take cues from the real world, from the examples of terror that Mother Nature has created. What can we conclude from this? Mother Nature is clearly hates the human race. How else can you explain vampire bats and piranhas? The world is a horrible place full of deadly, terrifying creatures.
Many people are terrified of spiders, many fear snakes (Indiana Jones is perhaps the most famous snake hater), some can’t dip a toe into a pool because of Steven Spielberg’s JAWS. There are those that are scared of absolutely everything, and lastly, there are the foolish few who say they fear nothing at all. But we all know their full of it. Personally, I find the dead eyes of goats and sheep creepy as hell, I think that Ostriches and Emus are out to get me, and, like Indy, am not a big fan of snakes.
So far, the animals and sea creatures that I have mentioned are the obvious ones, the ones we find almost every Friday night on the SyFy channel in giant B-movie fashion. Bears, sharks, spiders, snakes, alligators, piranhas… these are so prevalent in horror that the sight of irradiated monstrous versions of them (slightly) loses its impact. Here, in the Famous Monsters’ Faveorite Five, I’m going to freak you out about some OTHER real-life animals, made just for fans of horror and monsters. Animals that shouldn’t exist, but do. These “monsters” troll under the depths of the sea, soar across the open skies, and hunt in the dense jungle right here in the real world.
Some Jellyfish are alluring and some are beautiful. But they’re also undeniably eerie, almost alien-like (BRAIN FROM THE PLANET AROUS, anybody?), with a supernatural ghost vibe, floating underwater with a myriad of tentacles, watching, waiting. These deadly drifters roam mostly in the waters surrounding the Australian and Indonesian portions of the Pacific Ocean, but there are species in Hawaii and Florida that can cause heart failure. Snorklers beware.
The Box Jellyfish, or the Sea Wasp/Marine Stinger, has the deadliest venom in the world. The 10 foot long creature has 24 eyes (anything that doesn’t have two eyes automatically gets horror points), and a ton of tentacles, each one packing 5,000 stinging cells. Many have enough venom in their tentacles to kill 60 humans, let alone measly little you. The venom is activated by contact with fish, shellfish, and humans, and can consume your skin, devastate your nervous system, and cause heart attacks. Many victims die at sea before they can reach safety. If you encounter a Chironex fleckeri box jellyfish, you should just give up. A sting from one can kill you in less than three minutes — the length of a single commercial break.
Dozens of people, perhaps even 100 or more, die each year from the many types of box jellyfish that can be found in all of Earth’s oceans. If you’re in the Phillippines, stay indoors, as 20-40 a year of the previous figure come JUST from that area. The numbers may be even higher, because the box jellyfish is mostly prevalent in water bodies near cultures that don’t require death certificates.
If you’re a turtle, however, then you’re in luck. Sea turtles are unaffected by the tentacles and their venom, and they even eat the box jellyfish. So, if you’re a diver and want to menace the spaghetti serial killer of the sea, make like Nemo and ride that puppy (er, turtle) to safety.
RUNNER UP: THE LION’S MANE JELLYFISH. It’s not as dangerous as the box jellyfish, but picture a jellyfish that has tentacles up to 120 feet long and you’ll know why I seriously considered it. Its sting is rarely fatal, unless it causes you to drown, which is kind of the freakiest thing about this. If you’re underwater and get stung, a few moments of paralysis is all it takes to cause a permanent trip to Davey Jones’ locker.
You’d think with a name like “Frill Shark,” this may be a shark you can chill with, or at least make fun of its fashion sense. Take one look at what it above and I think you’ll reconsider. Remember, anything with shark in the title tends to be dangerous. The Frill Shark, or Frilled Shark, may or may not be dangerous to humans, we don’t know because they are so rarely found alive. But they live, and lurk, deep down in the Ocean’s depths.
Consider that the Frill Shark is called “the living fossil” and is compared to the Loch Ness monster. In fact, it may have spawned the entire “sea serpent” mythos, since it possesses the skills of an eel and snake in a shark’s body. The Frill Shark is a part of a primitive species of shark that has remained much the same over millions of years. Clearly, evolution got this baby right from the get go, and it didn’t need to change to survive. It’s dangerous enough as it is.
The Frill Shark’s mouth runs completely to the end of its head, allowing for 300 teeth in 25 rows. While it only reaches up to 6 feet in length, it is believed to trap its pray by contorting its body and lunging at you like a snake. Its long, flexible jaw, like an alligator’s, allows it to swallow its prey whole, with the aforementioned teeth preventing its victim from escaping.
It may not be as big or as daunting as the great white, but it’d still make the ocean turn a bit yellower if one of them was heading my direction.
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