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

http://youtu.be/nnuExrjOjfM

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. 

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Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too
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There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

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