Halloween: 13 spooky science stories to get you in the spirit

Creepy crawlies, weird animals and chilling scientific studies – we've got your nerdy Halloween reading material right here

Rachel Feltman
Thursday 29 October 2015 18:30
It's not just the supernatural that can be spooky
It's not just the supernatural that can be spooky

1. Fanged deer pops up in Afghanistan, 60 years after its last appearance


Did you know deer could have fangs? Well now you do. Sweet dreams.

2. This robot makes you feel like there’s a ghost behind you

In November, scientists published a study about ghosts. Robot ghosts. They wanted to study the neurological mechanisms behind the hallucinations that occur in conditions like schizophrenia, and they built an apparatus designed to create the sense of an extra "presence" in the room.

If that doesn't make you feel uneasy enough about the fragility of your perception of reality, check out this study about scientists who made their subjects feel literally invisible.

3. Man is cured of arachnophobia — by losing a chunk of his brain

The human brain can be super weird.


One man got more than he bargained for when severe seizures led doctors to remove part of his amygdala. While most of his fears remained the same, his fear of spiders disappeared.

4. Meet the woman who can’t feel fear

Speaking of fear: Meet a woman who just plain doesn't feel it.

It might sound like a super power, but it turns out that living without fear is, well, kind of terrifying.

5. ‘Vampire squirrel’ caught on camera for the first time ever

Haha, bet you thought the fanged deer was the creepiest Halloween animal.


6. New research might teach us how to make a scarier scream

Why do screams strike fear in our hearts? Scientists tried to figure it out in this recent study.

And their findings could be use to make movie screams just a little bit scarier.

7. Watch flesh-eating beetles strip this body down to the bone

Om nom nom.

Look, these beetles are actually really cool: Museums use them to clean the flesh off of specimens so the skeletons can be stored safely. But that doesn't mean they're not creepy as heck.

8. Here’s what happens to your body when you die

I mean, in case you were wondering.

What happens to your body when you die?

Even after you depart, there's a lot of chemistry that still goes on inside you. The American Chemical Society and mortician Caitlin Doughty teamed up to explain. (Reactions/American Chemical Society via YouTube)

This post features some great resources for learning all about the science and culture of your body's afterlife. Just keep one thing in mind: If you donate your body to science, your arms might end up hanging in an elaborate automated punching apparatus — which is an awesome place for your arms to end up, given most of the alternatives.

9. Scientists find the origin of Antarctica’s creepy ‘Blood Falls’

Okay, so, these are the "Blood Falls":

Blood Falls seeps from the end of the Taylor Glacier into Lake Bonney. The tent at left provides a sense of scale for just how big the phenomenon is. (Peter Rejcek, National Science Foundation)

Just, like, tons of stuff that looks like blood oozing out of Antarctica. Pretty chill.

Find out what's really going on here.

10. Why these mysterious, blood-sucking fish fell from the Alaskan sky

Sometimes fish fall out of the sky, which is pretty unsettling. Sometimes those fish look like this:


Never leave the house.

If you need more proof that fish can be deeply unsettling, check out the ones that basically have human teeth.

11. Say hello to the dementor wasp. It turns cockroaches into zombies.

Parasites that turn their hosts into zombies are really, really scary.

The dementor wasp isn't the only insect that uses mind control to get others to do its dirty work. Other wasps turn spiders into web-building slaves. And fungi can create zombies, too: This one makes infected ants turn themselves into booby traps to infect the rest of their colony.

12. An unexpected asteroid (or maybe comet) will fly surprisingly close to Earth on Halloween

This one isn't creepy, exactly, but it is happening on Halloween.

Slightly creepier: There's some unidentified space junk hurtling toward Earth, and it's going to hit us on 13 November — which is a Friday. OoooOOooOoooOOoh.

But seriously, neither of these events should worry you at all. They're just cool things.

13. Creepy doll fans, rejoice: There’s new audio of Thomas Edison’s horrific talking toys

Is there anything creepier than a creepy doll?


The answer is no. No, there is not. Thomas Edison, who invented several things that were not creepy dolls, created some truly terrifying talking toys. Do you want to hear what they have to say?

Happy Halloween.

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