Original image

5 Newly Discovered Creatures That Will Haunt Your Nightmares

Original image

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. 

Original image
Richard Bouhet // Getty
4 Expert Tips on How to Get the Most Out of August's Total Solar Eclipse
Original image
Richard Bouhet // Getty

As you might have heard, there’s a total solar eclipse crossing the U.S. on August 21. It’s the first total solar eclipse in the country since 1979, and the first coast-to-coast event since June 8, 1918, when eclipse coverage pushed World War I off the front page of national newspapers. Americans are just as excited today: Thousands are hitting the road to stake out prime spots for watching the last cross-country total solar eclipse until 2045. We’ve asked experts for tips on getting the most out of this celestial spectacle.


To see the partial phases of the eclipse, you will need eclipse glasses because—surprise!—staring directly at the sun for even a minute or two will permanently damage your retinas. Make sure the glasses you buy meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standards. As eclipse frenzy nears its peak, shady retailers are selling knock-off glasses that will not adequately protect your eyes. The American Astronomical Society keeps a list of reputable vendors, but as a rule, if you can see anything other than the sun through your glasses, they might be bogus. There’s no need to splurge, however: You can order safe paper specs in bulk for as little as 90 cents each. In a pinch, you and your friends can take turns watching the partial phases through a shared pair of glasses. As eclipse chaser and author Kate Russo points out, “you only need to view occasionally—no need to sit and stare with them on the whole time.”


There are plenty of urban legends about “alternative” ways to protect your eyes while watching a solar eclipse: smoked glass, CDs, several pairs of sunglasses stacked on top of each other. None works. If you’re feeling crafty, or don’t have a pair of safe eclipse glasses, you can use a pinhole projector to indirectly watch the eclipse. NASA produced a how-to video to walk you through it.


Bryan Brewer, who published a guidebook for solar eclipses, tells Mental Floss the difference between seeing a partial solar eclipse and a total solar eclipse is “like the difference between standing right outside the arena and being inside watching the game.”

During totality, observers can take off their glasses and look up at the blocked-out sun—and around at their eerily twilit surroundings. Kate Russo’s advice: Don’t just stare at the sun. “You need to make sure you look above you, and around you as well so you can notice the changes that are happening,” she says. For a brief moment, stars will appear next to the sun and animals will begin their nighttime routines. Once you’ve taken in the scenery, you can use a telescope or a pair of binoculars to get a close look at the tendrils of flame that make up the sun’s corona.

Only a 70-mile-wide band of the country stretching from Oregon to South Carolina will experience the total eclipse. Rooms in the path of totality are reportedly going for as much as $1000 a night, and news outlets across the country have raised the specter of traffic armageddon. But if you can find a ride and a room, you'll be in good shape for witnessing the spectacle.


Your eyes need half an hour to fully adjust to darkness, but the total eclipse will last less than three minutes. If you’ve just been staring at the sun through the partial phases of the eclipse, your view of the corona during totality will be obscured by lousy night vision and annoying green afterimages. Eclipse chaser James McClean—who has trekked from Svalbard to Java to watch the moon blot out the sun—made this rookie mistake during one of his early eclipse sightings in Egypt in 2006. After watching the partial phases, with stray beams of sunlight reflecting into his eyes from the glittering sand and sea, McClean was snowblind throughout the totality.

Now he swears by a new method: blindfolding himself throughout the first phases of the eclipse to maximize his experience of the totality. He says he doesn’t mind “skipping the previews if it means getting a better view of the film.” Afterward, he pops on some eye protection to see the partial phases of the eclipse as the moon pulls away from the sun. If you do blindfold yourself, just remember to set an alarm for the time when the total eclipse begins so you don’t miss its cross-country journey. You'll have to wait 28 years for your next chance.

Original image
Pop Culture
IKEA Publishes Instructions for Turning Rugs Into Game of Thrones Capes
Original image

Game of Thrones is one of the most expensive TV shows ever produced, but even the crew of the hit HBO series isn’t above using an humble IKEA hack behind the scenes. According to Mashable, the fur capes won by Jon Snow and other members of the Night’s Watch on the show are actually sheepskin rugs sold by the home goods chain.

The story behind the iconic garment was first revealed by head costume designer Michele Clapton at a presentation at Los Angeles’s Getty Museum in 2016. “[It’s] a bit of a trick,” she said at Designing the Middle Ages: The Costumes of GoT. “We take anything we can.”

Not one to dissuade customers from modifying its products, IKEA recently released a cape-making guide in the style of its visual furniture assembly instructions. To start you’ll need one of their Skold rugs, which can be bought online for $79. Using a pair of scissors cut a slit in the material and make a hole where your head will go. Slip it on and you’ll look ready for your Game of Thrones debut.

The costume team makes a few more changes to the rugs used on screen, like shaving them, adding leather straps, and waxing and “frosting” the fur to give it a weather-worn effect. Modern elements are used to make a variety of the medieval props used in Game of Thrones. The swords, for example, are made from aircraft aluminum, not steel. For more production design insights, check out these behind-the-scenes secrets of Game of Thrones weapons artists.

[h/t Mashable]


More from mental floss studios