Earth is filled with amazing and awe-inspiring creatures of all shapes and sizes. We humans are fortunate enough to share our planet with a massive array of different organisms that sustain our ecosystems, make for hilarious memes, inspire us every day, and generally make the Earth a more diverse and interesting place.
While it’s important to respect all forms of life and remember that other animals have just as much of a right to be on this planet as we humans do, there are some animals out there that are just downright scary.
It’s difficult to wrap your mind around the fact that the process of evolution made animals as cute as baby pandas, but also made animals as terrifying as tarantulas. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I can’t imagine anyone would rather hug a python than a poodle. While I fully understand that even the scariest animals out there have important roles to play in their ecosystems, personally, I hope that they play those roles as far away from me as possible.
So, if anyone reading this is already verging on agoraphobia (fear of going outside one’s own home), it’s probably better that you exit out of this window at once. This list of seven scary animals will make you never want to go outside again. Enjoy.
If you thought piranhas and barracudas were the only terrifying carnivorous fish out there, you were sorely mistaken. The goliath tigerfish looks like it was made to star in the 2004 film Frankenfish. The fact that this animal exists in real life and is swimming around in the Congo River basin is just absolutely horrifying.
You may already be familiar with the goliath tigerfish from the Discovery Channel show River Monsters, which is full of cameos from demonic river-dwelling creatures. Rumor has it that the goliath tigerfish will actually eat small crocodiles and will also attack humans on occasion. So, if you needed a reason not to go swimming in the Congo River basin, which is probably inadvisable to begin with, just know that the goliath tigerfish is out there and waiting.
While we’re talking about animals with “goliath” in their name, we might as well talk about the goliath birdeater, also known as the real-life Aragog from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
This is the largest arachnid on the planet and, yes, they do occasionally eat birds. While birds aren’t a typical part of the goliath birdeater’s diet, the fact that they’re big enough to eat birds and will occasionally do so still makes my skin crawl.
To make things even more horrifying, the goliath birdeater has urticating hairs (meaning that they can cause stinging or irritation) on its abdomen that it can shoot at predators when it feels threatened.
While the spider’s bite isn’t lethal to humans, the pain of getting bit by a goliath birdeater has been compared to driving a nail through your hand. Luckily, if you stay out of the rainforests of northern South America, you’ll probably never see one unless they appear in your nightmares after reading this.
The basking shark looks like what would happen if you let H. R. Giger, the guy who did the concept designs for the Alien movie series, create his very own shark. These things swim around with their gigantic mouths open, exposing what looks like some sort of extraterrestrial ribcage, and just generally looking intimidating as hell. While basking sharks are filter-feeders with no interest in consuming human flesh, they’re large enough that they could easily swallow a human whole by accident.
Yes, the basking shark can be up to 26 feet long and can weigh about 11,000 pounds, making them the second largest fish on Earth behind the whale shark. Much like the whale shark, the basking shark is a gentle giant that stoically swims around and slurps up krill and plankton. But still, if I found myself staring into a basking shark’s massive mouth, I’d probably soil my scuba suit.
If you want to find some of the largest and most terrifying predators in the world, sub-Saharan Africa would probably be the best place to start your search. This region of the world also just so happens to be home to one of the largest birds of prey in the world, the martial eagle. These eagles just look pissed off all the time, and the fact that their wingspan has been reported to be over eight feet in some cases doesn’t make them any less terrifying.
The martial eagle will swoop down on its prey from high up in the air, killing it with its talons before it even has a chance to realize what’s going on. Unfortunately, the martial eagle is actually big and lethal enough to kill livestock, which has made it a target for hunters throughout sub-Saharan Africa and one of the most persecuted bird species in the world.
Naked Mole Rat
Alright, if you’re like me, the first thing you think of when hearing about naked mole rats is Rufus from the Disney Channel cartoon Kim Possible. While Rufus was as undeniably cute as he was useful, real-world naked mole rats are pretty horrifying to look at. I know it’s not their fault that they were born without hair and with those massive buck teeth, but you’ve got to admit that they look like some sort of freaky alien spawn.
Oddly enough, some people keep naked mole rats as pets. Immediately, I can’t stop thinking how awful it would be to wake up in the middle of the night and find your naked mole rat standing on your chest and staring you in the face.
Of course, they wouldn’t really be staring at you considering that they’re almost entirely blind (an evolutionary result of them living underground for pretty much their entire lives). And it’s pretty comforting to know that they’re almost entirely subterranean creatures because the last thing I want is to stumble across a naked mole rat on my way to the supermarket.
Let’s bring it back to the amazing and terrifying world of the big, blue sea for another scary animal that pretty much embodies the phrase “existence is pain.” The experience of being a wolffish just doesn’t look like a comfortable one. I almost feel bad. But then I remember that these creatures can grow to up to 5 feet long and have been known to bite people with their protruding, wolf-like teeth and my sympathy turns to dread and horror.
Unlike some of the other marine terrors on this list, you don’t have to go to remote rivers in sub-Saharan Africa to find a wolffish. Nope, you can take a trip up to Maine and probably catch a wolf fish by accident. I would imagine that pulling a wolffish onto your boat when you’re trying to catch a sturgeon or a striped bass would be a pretty scarring experience, but that’s just me.
If I were to run into a shoebill stork in the wild, I would probably become convinced that I had accidentally stepped into a time machine and ended up in the Cretaceous period. These birds look simply prehistoric.
They can grow up to five feet tall, meaning that they would look down at Simone Biles from a considerable height advantage. They creep around on these long legs with huge feet that look like they’re made for crushing human skulls. Oh, and they have that signature bill that’s shaped less like a shoe and more like a crudely-made medieval torture device. Did I mention that their scientific species name is rex?
The shoebill’s native habitat is the tropical regions of east Africa where it slowly lurks around until it spots prey, at which point it springs into action with impressive and fear-inspiring speed and launches a deadly attack. The shoebill is one of the only wading birds that hunts mostly using vision, which is why it has those large, piercing eyes, yet another feature that makes these birds so horrifying.