Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 21, 2024

Happy Halloween from faceless moles and freaky fish!

By SOPHIA GAUTHIER | October 31, 2013

In honor of one of the most largely recognized and creepiest of holidays, the Science and Technology section of The News-Letter presents to you, an assemblage of the absolute freakiest animals on Earth.


Slinking onto the list is the Matamata turtle. The Matamata turtle is more goofy-looking than creepy, but with a flattened head and spiny protrusions, it is worth a mention on the Halloween Hall of Fame. These poor amphibians don’t have a great deal going for them, as they are apparently rather bad at both swimming and chewing. To overcome such qualities that would probably make prey capture a problem, Matamata turtles generally accumulate massive amounts of algae on their bodies and rest motionless on the riverbed awaiting a tasty snack. When a small and delectable fish passes by, the turtle literally slurps it into its mouth and swallows it whole. Problem solved.


Crawling next onto our list is the star-nosed mole. These moles are essentially blind and prefer to spend their days wriggling through boggy soil, methodically exploring the dark, dank homes of the worms and leeches that comprise a substantial part of its diet. Perhaps, however, the most striking feature of this fuzzy North American native is the assemblage of tentacles that manifest a better part of their faces.

These tentacles, albeit creepy, are a phenomenal part of the star-nosed moles’ sensory arsenal. Each fleshy appendage comprises around 25,000 touch receptors, which gives them one of the most refined senses of touch in the animal kingdom and more than makes up for the lack of eyes. Talk about touchy-feely.


Coming in next is the wrinkle-faced bat. This bat is rather aptly named, possessing numerous nodes and protuberances of skin that convolute its face. Although it looks like it might as well have just soared out of Hocus Pocus, this bat prefers to feast on fruits during its nightly scavenging. The wrinkle-nosed bat’s broad face gives it one of the most powerful bite forces of the leaf-nosed bats, posing the ultimate threat to innocent produce. The scientific name of this critter is Centurio senex, which translates from Latin into “a 100-year-old man.”


Not to be left off the list is the ever-freakish angler fish. Most children were introduced to the ghastly creature in Pixar’s (otherwise) lovable classic, Finding Nemo. Yes, these terrifying marine floor dwellers do really exist, and they’re even creepier than you imagine. The angler fishes’ characteristic lighted bait only adorns the females and is a spinal protrusion, yes, a spinal protrusion, that lures unwitting prey towards their hungry, hungry chompers.

These cranky creatures take the phrase, “mate for life” to another level. In order to reproduce, the male angler fish spends it life searching for a suitable female. He then latches on by digging his pointy teeth into her side and subsequently fuses to her body as a permanent reproductive appendage. I’ve heard of being clingy but. . .

Have a tip or story idea?
Let us know!

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The News-Letter.