"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."- Mark TwainA fungus with mind-control powers, gremlins, and water that turns living creatures to stone may sound like the stuff of sci-fi and fantasy novels, but real life is often stranger than fiction...
The silver waters of Lake Natron in Tanzania have a dark secret--any living organism that touches it turns to stone. Okay, so the reality is not quite as dramatic as this picture by author Nick Brandt might have us believe in his book Across the Ravaged Land (the animals have been posed for artistic purposes), but the facts are still pretty creepy. Due to the lake's high soda and salt content (it has a pH of 9 to 10.5!) any animal unfortunate enough to fall into the deadly water will soon calcify once it reaches dry land, perfectly preserving the body. Check out this awesome article to see some more of Nick Brandt's stunning photographs.
You wouldn't want to be an ant in the Brazilian rain forest, thanks to a particularly nasty fungus called Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani. The fungus infects the ant, taking control of its brain, and forces it to walk around until the ant finds a suitable location for the fungus to spread its spores. Once it's completed its mission, the fungus kills the ant. Charming.
You could be forgiven for thinking this is a still out of the horror movie, The Bay, but this is actually a photo of a gruesome critter known as the Cymothoa exigua--a louse which attaches itself to the tongue of a fish, eating away at the flesh and feeding on their blood supply, essentially becoming a replacement tongue for the unfortunate fish. Bleeeeeeeee!
This alien-like creature could easily be a visitor from another planet, but it is in fact the Blue Sea Slug found commonly in oceans around the world. Don't be fooled by its small size and pretty appearance though; the Blue Sea Slug's sting is deadlier than the Portuguese Man 'o' War that it preys upon!
Aye Aye Lemur
"Don't feed him after midnight..."
Living proof that gremlins exist! The Aye-Aye lemur may look like it would happily eat you in your sleep, but these wee fellas actually live off insects and coconuts and probably just want a big cuddle.