5 Newly Discovered Creatures That Will Haunt Your Nightmares

I often wake in a cold sweat, swiping at my arms and inside my ears frantically trying to scatter the insects crawling on my skin. These are my nightmares, invaded by creepy crawlers of all shapes and sizes. Perhaps it's because my worst nightmares seem to be coming true. Recently in China, a woman found that a spider had made a home of her ear for five days before doctors extracted it. If ear-nesting spiders don't do it for you, perhaps these recently discovered creatures will have you calling out for Mommy in the wee hours of the night. 

1. The Cave Spider That Could Rip Your Eyes Out

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

What's scary about the Trogloraptor marchingtoni isn't that it's pretty big for a spider or that it was found right here on our home turf (in a cave in Oregon), it's that at the end of its legs are barbed, scythe-like claws. Affectionately called the "cave robber" spider, its body isn't much bigger than your garden variety spider, but when its legs are extended, it measures one and a half inches wide. And with those claws, entomologists suspect they are more predator than wait-and-grab. Should something touch its legs while dangling from the air, the spider may snap shut and grab its prey. Experts have never seen anything like this spider, which puts the cave robber not only into a new category of species, but in its own family of spiders. Which means there may be more where this came from.

2. The Spider Whose Web Could Swallow You Whole

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

What do you do if you're a spider without claws? How about spin such a giant web that you can catch human-sized food? That's what the Caerostris darwini is capable of. Discovered in 2007 in the jungles of Madagascar, the "Darwin bark spider" is only an inch wide but can cover 30-square-foot areas with its webs. One anchor line of its thread can stretch up to 80 feet in midair. If that weren't enough, the silk it spins is NASA-grade strong, potentially 10 times better than Kevlar.

3. The Roach That Can Jump on Your Face

Now this is what I'm talking about. It's bad enough that cockroaches can scurry in and out of unfathomably small spaces and, most likely, survive nuclear warfare. Now they can take flight!

Introducing the chill-inspiring Saltoblattella montistabularis or, as it's affectionately called, "leaproach." Unlike the 4,000 some-odd other species of roach, this talented little guy can jump. The bug catapults itself from the grass to the tops of flowers with its buff hind legs. It's so powerful, in fact, that it can cover as many as 50 bug-body lengths in one jump (we can only manage about two body lengths).

4. The Leech That Will Feed on Your Insides

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, scientists happened upon a new type of leech whose mere existence will surely ruin your future freshwater swims. Dubbed the Tyrannobdella rex, or "tyrant leech king," this new species was discovered in the remote Peruvian Amazon. The three-inch long bloodsucker has exceptionally large teeth (hence the name), which it uses to saw into the soft inner tissue of mammals' orifices. In horror-speak: this hideous creature can crawl up your nose, into your ear, or other unmentionables, and dine on your insides using its little razor-like teeth. Good luck ever enjoying Stand By Me again. 

5. The Cricket That Wants Your Blood

Jiminy this guy is not. This flesh-eating cricket was discovered by a film crew exploring a South American cave in 2012. The yet-to-be named creature swims instead of jumps and has developed highly specialized palps, or mouthparts, for better locating its prey and stealthily moving about its dark habitats. 

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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