It’s the kind of beast Steven Spielberg might feature in a movie. Villagers in Bunawan township in the Philippines celebrated what they hope is the end of a reign of terror when they captured a 21 feet long, 2,370 pound crocodile. Two years ago, a child was eaten by a crocodile that was never caught. Since July, a fisherman went missing, and a croc is a prime suspect. Villagers also reported that they saw a crocodile kill a water buffalo this summer. But this week, using steel cable traps and an animal carcass as bait, they caught the beast and it’s the largest crocodile ever to be taken alive. It took nearly 100 people to haul the monster from a creek, then a crane to lift it into a truck. While this capture may set Guinness Book records, there are still an estimated 250 such giant freshwater crocodiles still in the wild and roughly 1,000 of the saltwater variety. So perhaps they shouldn’t celebrate too quickly. And don’t forget Spielberg’s classic film Jaws in which the residents of a town terrorized by a great white shark rejoice when one of the creatures is killed, only to learn a harsh lesson later — -the real culprit was still out in the water. We hope the real life story has a better ending.
The Giant Squid
The giant squid has never been captured alive. These enormous sea creatures — scientists estimate that they may grow to be as much as 45 feet long and weigh up to a ton — occasionally wash up on shore but are more often found by deep sea fishermen who accidentally catch them in their commercial trawl nets. Giant squids have eight thick arms and two longer tentacles. Their eyes can be as much as 10 inches in diameter. In 2004, Japanese scientists successfully photographed a live squid nearly 3,000 feet underwater off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands. And here’s a fun thought: these inky cephalopods might be the true objects of sailors’ terror-filled tales or misguided affections, as sightings of merpeople and sea monsters date back hundreds of years. The most famous fictional incarnation of this legendary animal can be found in Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in which the crew of the Nautilus does battle with a nefarious giant squid that has tentacles as long as the ship itself. Actually, now that we think about it, maybe it’s better that live squids don’t surface very often.
The World’s Largest Spider: Goliath Birdeater Tarantula
Arachnophobes, take this opportunity to look away, because the Goliath Birdeater Tarantula might be your biggest fear. As the largest spider in terms of mass, the Goliath Tarantula can grow up to nearly a foot across, weighing in at more than six ounces, with fangs that are over an inch long. Native to the remote rain forests of South America, this tarantula was named based on reports from explorers who claimed to see one eating a hummingbird. But while their scale can prompt them to seek out this type of large prey, for the most part, the Goliath primarily feeds on insects and other invertebrates, which it traps using its silk web and kills with its fatal venom. Despite their creepy appearance and vicious reputation, however, the tarantula’s bite is no worse than a wasp sting to humans, and to date there have been no reports of human fatalities due to this arachnid. Not like that makes us want to cuddle up to the Goliath anytime in the foreseeable future.
Don’t let its appearance fool you. That blob floating in the ocean is far from innocuous and it isn’t a jellyfish. As the name implies, the Portuguese Man-of-War isn’t a nice beast to meet in the ocean, as roughly 10,000 people swimming off the Australian coast discover each year. The creature is actually a “colonial organism” made of multiple polyps, the largest, a bladder filled with gas that is similar to the atmosphere, is often mistaken for a jellyfish — and it gives the animal it’s name since the bladder looks like the sail of an old Man-of-War battle ship). The other three polyps, gastrozooid (feeding), gonozooid (reproduction) and dactylozooid (defense), are clustered around the
bladder. The dactylzooids compose tentacles that can be more than 150 feet in length. Tiny fish can live in the tentacles, but when a human or larger fish is stung, the venom leaves red welts that can last multiple days. The recommended treatment is to apply salt water to the sting. Unlike jelly fish, vinegar is not recommended as a treatment, and contrary to old wives’ tales, urine is not a recommended treatment for a jellyfish or a Man-of-War. Let’s just say that avoiding this animal all together is the best defense.
Why pick one gigantic, ugly fish when you can pick three? First up is the rarely seen oarfish, an eel that is the Guinness Book of World Records holder as the longest bony fish in the world. Oarfish — really a family of several species — can grow to as long as 56 ft. in length. While they usually live in deep water, they can sometimes float to the surface when dying — a habit that’s caused them to be mistaken for mythical sea serpents. The Brazilian arapaima is the biggest freshwater fish on the planet — they can reach 14 ft. and tip the scales at morethan 400 lbs. Unfortunately for their survival, arapaima are also very tasty — the species is threatened by overfishing. That’s not something the very nasty giant snakehead has to worry about, though. The Southeast Asian river fish is pretty big, but it’s also extremely aggressive, attacking anything that might threaten its young — including human beings. The snakehead can walk on land with its soft pectoral fins, and even breathe air for a little while. Don’t make one mad — it will find you.
These guys definitely win for the least scary name, but the box jellyfish is proof that some of the most innocent-looking things can actually be incredibly dangerous — sort of like Justin Bieber. The fearsome box jellyfish or sea wasp can be found in the tropical Indo-Pacific, and their tentacles, each of which contain about 5,000 stinging cells, pack a serious punch. Box jellyfish poison is among the most toxic in the world, attacking the heart and nervous system. The pain from a sting is apparently so great victims beg to have the poisoned limbs amputated, and can sometimes simply go into heart failure because of the agony. Oh, and they’re also nearly translucent, meaning swimmers can collide with them unaware. Your best bet might be to make friends with a sea turtle — they’re impervious to the box jelly venom, and love to eat the spongy creatures.
There are a lot of ways to get on this list: be super poisonous, be super scary or just be nasty looking. But the Burmese python does it the old-fashioned way — it’s just really, really big. The constrictor is one of the largest snakes in the world, usually growing up to 25 ft. and some 200 lbs, but there have been pythons as long as 50 ft. and as heavy as 1,000 lbs. And the snakes put that bulk to good use — they grab their victims with sharp teeth, wrap themselves around their target and simply squeeze. After their lunch has suffocated, the pythons swallow them whole with super-stretchy jaws. Fortunately, Burmese pythons rarely attack human beings, and thanks to habitat loss in the Southeast Asian jungle, the snakes are actually now a threatened species. So they should be more afraid of you — though if you meet one in a dark corner of the rainforest, somehow I doubt that’ll be the case.
With over 5,000 eye-witness accounts, tens of thousands of documented footprints, recorded vocalizations and some video, photo and film evidence the Sasquatch creature is a either a grand legend, or a blood and bones entity. Sane people report seeing the creature close up. And they say it is not a bi-pedal bear or a guy in a gorilla suit. It is a big, smelly ape that walks on 2 legs. But damn can this thing hide. Eventually one is going to eat some rotten berries and get disoriented, then it may stagger onto a hilly highway, and some big rambling semi truck is going to nail it dead on. Then the skeptics won’t know what to say.
As far as anybody knows the Sasquatch hasn’t killed any human beings. Although Teddy Roosevelt wrote about an incident in Montana in the 1910’s where a mountain man was stalked by a Bigfoot. His badly beaten body was found by two trappers some time later. Farmers and ranchers have reported missing chickens and sheep shortly after a Sasquatch was observed in the area.