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Creepy Crawlies: 7 more little things that make life special

In case yesterday's story on horrifying parasites didn't leave you sufficiently creeped out, Chris Weber is here to tell you about seven more creepy crawlies. Afterwards, have a look at our own Ransom Riggs' latest original video: Attack of the Killer Parasites.

Remember that scene in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan when Ricardo Montalban drops a weird-scorpion spacebug into a poor guy's ear? That was fiction; these suckers are real. Here are seven parasites, ranging from common to obscure, that will make your sphincter clench with fear.

1. Pinworms

Pinworms look like little pieces of uncooked spaghetti in your poop. They're quite common: One out of three children will have them. Kids pick up the larvae while digging in the dirt, and as soon as they put their fingers in their mouths, it's home free! It matures in your intestine and then, in a miraculous moment worthy of Nova, Momma Pinworm slithers out of her host's anus in the middle of the night and lays her eggs on the surrounding skin. Having a family of pinworms camped around your butthole itches, and so people respond by scratching like hell. In the process, they get pinworm eggs under their fingernails, and the circle of life goes on.

Ascaris.jpg

2. Ascaris lumbricoides


Ascaris lumbricoides
is one of the largest parasites to infect humans. About a quarter of the world's population carries around this roundworm, which can grow to be as thick as a pencil and as long as two or three. Ascaris hangs in your small intestine, where it eats food passing through. A female Ascaris can fill up said intestine by laying around 300,000 eggs a day. Those babies have to go somewhere, and that's when the trouble really begins, as one expert described: "Ascaris has a tendency to wander places it shouldn't. If the conditions start to become unfavourable (e.g., the host gets a fever, undergoes anaesthetic or takes worming tablets), the worms will try to get away. If they wander down the intestine, they may be passed with the stool (giving one an awful fright the next time one goes to the toilet), [or] they may wander back up through the stomach and be vomited up (there have been cases of the worms suffocating infants by climbing up behind the nasal passages) . . ."

3. Plasmodium

No list of human parasites would be complete without plasmodium, the protozoa that causes malaria, which originally earned the nickname "jungle fever." Transmitted through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito, plasmodium takes up residence in your liver within 40 minutes. There it reproduces inside your cells. If enough of these cells burst at one time, your fever spikes. From the liver, the plasmodia can invade other organs like the spleen, kidneys, and brain. As many as 500 million people a year contract malaria, with a particularly heavy toll among children.

4. Lice

Lice come in several hundred varieties, three of which use the human body as a condominium: body, head, and pubic lice. Their preferred food is warm human blood. Eggs and baby lice are called "nits," hence the expression "nit-picking." Head lice can spread to the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard. Their primary symptom is intense itching triggered by lice saliva. The other sign you may have crabs is brown spots in your underwear: lice droppings. Unfortunately, good hygiene can't protect you; you can win a grooming award and still have lice. "If you don't like doing laundry," one mother of three told me, "you'll be sad to have lice come into your home." In some upscale communities, salons offer a lice package so kids can get treated without having to feel the stigma of their peers' ridicule.

5. Trichinella

You can get the worm Trichinella by eating raw or undercooked pork—or bear, fox, horse, seal or walrus. However, as one insightful Stanford student pointed out, "you CANNOT spread trichinosis to others (unless they eat you)."

amebiasis.jpg

6. Amoebas

Amoebas are cute when they're swimming around on your microscope slide, but they can wreak havoc inside you. One illness caused by amoebas, amebiasis, is transmitted via contaminated food or anal sex. Amebiasis is very common; it kills more people than any other parasite besides the malaria plasmodium. The much rarer amebic meningoencephalitis involves amoebas eating your brain. Ninety-five percent of people with this condition die.

7. Hookworms

Hookworms are shaped like rough hooks, with bent heads that latch on to the inner wall of your intestine. Like lice, they suck your blood. Remember Jeff Foxworthy's jokes about the chronic laziness of rednecks? Well, the propensity of some rural Southerners for lying around was probably due, at least in part, to their hookworm problems. You're not going to feel like doing much work with several thousand worms inside your gut.

And now for our feature presentation...

Chris Weber is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com.

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What Pop Culture Gets Wrong About Dissociative Identity Disorder
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From the characters in Fight Club to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, popular culture is filled with "split" personalities. These dramatic figures might be entertaining, but they're rarely (if ever) scientifically accurate, SciShow Psych's Hank Green explains in the channel's latest video. Most representations contribute to a collective misunderstanding of dissociative identity disorder, or DID, which was once known as multiple personality disorder.

Experts often disagree about DID's diagnostic criteria, what causes it, and in some cases, whether it exists at all. Many, however, agree that people with DID don't have multiple figures living inside their heads, all clamoring to take over their body at a moment's notice. Those with DID do have fragmented personalities, which can cause lapses of memory, psychological distress, and impaired daily function, among other side effects.

Learn more about DID (and what the media gets wrong about mental illness) by watching the video below.

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25 Dapper Outfit Choices for Fashionable Pets
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Lavishing your furry friends with adorable attire is a benefit of pet ownership that they don't mention on the adoption forms. Whether you prefer practical clothing like sweaters and jackets or statement pieces like bow ties and tutus, these dapper duds are perfect for a howl-iday or "gotcha day" gift, or simply for saying, "Who's the cutest little pupper in pajamas? You are!"

1. CASHMERE DOG SWEATER; FROM $165

dog in sweater
Canine Styles

This classic cable-knit cashmere sweater is a sophisticated look for Fido or Finn. Get it from Canine Styles, a luxury dog emporium in New York City that has plenty of posh and preppy outfits.

Find It: Canine Styles

2. TOGGLE DOG COAT; $85

dog in coat
Canine Styles

This toggle coat (available in orange, navy, and tan) is as fashionable as it is warm. Made of Melton wool, it has Velcro closures to make getting dressed easy. It's great for long walks in the country.

Find It: Canine Styles

3. DOG TUXEDO; FROM $90

Dog in tuxedo
Etsy

This satin tuxedo is perfect for the canine members of your wedding party, though it will brighten up any other occasion as well. The custom, handmade outfit comes complete with a snappy bow tie.

Find It: Etsy

4. DOG BELLE DRESS; FROM $45

Dog Belle Dress
Etsy

The queen of your castle can feel like a Disney princess in her very own version of Belle's iconic yellow dress from Beauty and the Beast. This ball gown is made from yellow crepe satin with chiffon overlay on the bodice and features hand-painted gold detailing on the skirt. Enchanted rose not included.

Find It: Etsy

5. POODLE SKIRT OUTFIT FOR DOGS; $26

Rubies Pink Fifties Girl Pet Costume
Amazon

What if you could buy a 1950s poodle skirt for your poodle? This retro dress is comprised of a pink poodle skirt, striped bodice, and sequined belt, and comes with a bow headband.

Find It: Amazon

6. RIBBED CROCHET BUNNY SWEATER; $25

bunny in a sweater
Etsy

Your snuggle-bunny will look like a little fancy-pants in this ribbed crochet sweater. Choose from seven colors, including this dashing deep red.

Find It: Etsy

7. BESPOKE MONOGRAM DOG SWEATER; FROM $155

Dog in sweater
Ruby Rufus

Bespoke clothing isn't just for humans: British luxury dog clothing brand Ruby Rufus will make your pooch a custom monogram sweater made with 100 percent Italian cashmere. You can even order it in your dog's favorite color.

Find It: Ruby Rufus

8. HOT PINK DOG TUTU; $17

Dog in hot pink tutu
Etsy

Tutus look absolutely adorable on tiny humans and animals alike. If your pooch wants to get in touch with its inner ballerina, then grab this hot pink number from Etsy. Rave reviews are a sure thing.

Find It: Etsy

9. PINK DOG POLO SHIRT; $35

Dog Pink Polo Shirt
Canine Styles

This pink polo shirt is perfect for your preppy fur baby. It features not one but a veritable multitude of crocodiles. They'll be the most dapper dog at the country club.

Find It: Canine Styles

10. DOG BARN COAT WITH BROWN CORDUROY COLLAR; $85

Dog in barn coat
Canine Styles

When it's time for a walk, your dog will look effortlessly chic in this fancy barn coat. It comes in navy, cranberry, orange, hot pink, and loden and features convenient pockets for anyone with opposable thumbs.

Find It: Canine Styles

11. WHITE PET NECK RUFF; $26

Pet Neck Ruff
Etsy

Your canine or kitty will look like their painting belongs in London's National Portrait Gallery with this Elizabethan neck ruff.

Find It: Etsy

12. CHICKEN SWEATER; $25

chicken wearing sweater
Etsy

Chickens can get cold when they're strutting around outside. A sweater (well, more like sweater vest) for your bird can also help prevent feather picking during molting season. Or, it can simply keep them warm while they stare pensively across a snowy landscape.

Find It: Etsy

13. PET CIRCLE SCARF; $15

dog in scarf
Etsy

An infinity scarf is a perfect burst of color on a dreary early morning walk. The proprietor of Mitten Made on Etsy originally designed this wool snood for her miniature Dachshund to help keep her warm during the long, cold winters in Michigan.

Find It: Etsy

14. FAB DOG TRAVEL RAINCOAT; FROM $18

Fab Dog Travel Raincoat
Chewy

This timeless yellow rain slicker will look great on any puppy when it's raining cats and dogs. It's made of 100 percent waterproof nylon shell that keeps fur dry. Bonus: It's perfect for an It Halloween costume.

Find It: Chewy

15. LACE CAT OR DOG COLLAR; FROM $10

cat in lace collar
Etsy

This handmade, white lace collar is a must-have for fancy felines. It's also embellished with a large rhinestone.

Find It: Etsy

16. FITWARM PENGUIN PAJAMAS FOR DOGS; FROM $10

Fitwarm Cute Penguin Xmas Dog Pajamas
Amazon

Keep your pupper warm on cold winter nights with these penguin PJs. They're great for doggie sleepovers or lazy weekends on the couch watching Netflix.

Find It: Amazon

17. PLAID CASHMERE DOG COAT; FROM $225

dog in plaid coat
Canine Styles

Your dog will look like a proper gentleman in this smart plaid peacoat. This fine garment is made of cashmere with a faux fur lining and leather buttons, and is a perfect shield against chill and fog.

Find It: Canine Styles

18. SATIN PET BOW TIE; FROM $8

Satin Bow Tie for Dog
Etsy

This satin doggie bow tie is perfect for any occasion. It comes in several colors and features a Velcro fastener that makes it easy to attach to a collar. Plus, 10 percent of every sale goes to charity: specifically to SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Feeding Pets of the Homeless.

Find It: Etsy

19. RED DOG DRESS; FROM $34

dog in dress
Etsy

Your good boy or girl will look red carpet-ready in this elegant gown. The voluminous tulle skirt is to die for, and each bow is embellished with beads. Custom orders are also available.

Find It: Etsy

20. DOG TIE; FROM $13

Dog tie
Etsy

Your pooch will be ready to stun at any black tie event. This tie is designed like a collar, making it easy to dress your four-legged friend. This Etsy store gives back: 10 perfect of all sales are donated to an animal protection association.

Find It: Etsy

21. NAUTICAL DOG DRESS WITH MATCHING LEASH; $20

Dog sailor dress
BaxterBoo

Perfect for a day on the town or setting sail in a schooner, this is the sailor outfit you never knew your best furry friend needed. This vintage throwback also comes with a matching leash.

Find It: BaxterBoo

22. TARTAN FLANNEL PET BOW TIE; $5.50

tartan pet bow tie
Etsy

Your dog or cat will turn heads in this flannel tartan bow tie. It has a convenient elastic loop that slides over your pup's collar.

Find It: Etsy

23. PUCCI DOG SHIRT; $23

dog in Pucci dog shirt
Etsy

Only the fanciest dogs wear, err, Pucci. Grab this punny "designer" t-shirt for your pup. This high-quality cotton statement piece is perfect for small breeds.

Find It: Etsy

24. PINK POLKA DOT AND LACE DOG HARNESS DRESS; $20

Pink Polka Dot and Lace Designer Dog Harness Dress
BaxterBoo

This feminine pink polka dot dress is simply adorable. It features a convenient built-in harness and comes with a matching leash.

Find It: BaxterBoo

25. PET SWEATER VEST; $6

pet sweater vest
Amazon

Your dog or cat will look like an erudite Oxford professor in this sweater vest. Note that the button on the pocket is shaped like a bone.

Find It: Amazon

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