Vampires, ghosts, and swimming skeletons? These monsters aren’t supernatural phantoms—they’re real animals! Watch these mythical monsters transform into real creatures below!
This cephalopod is no bloodsucker. The vampire squid ignores live prey and instead feasts on detritus—dead plankton, algae, and other expired stuff floating in the water. Its spooky name comes from the squid’s red body, blue eyes, and cloak-like connective tissue between its arms.
A pale creature flies through the night. It’s not a ghost—it’s a ghost bat! This Australian bat is nocturnal, which means it’s most active at night. But the long, soft fur is a dead giveaway that this little bat is no ghoul.
The thorny devil’s spiky skin doesn’t just warn would-be predators that this lizard is not on the menu. The Australian lizard uses its skin to stay hydrated! When the thorny devil brushes past some dewy grass, water flows through little grooves between the spikes and toward its mouth. Ahh, skin water—so refreshing!
With their slender, see-through bodies, it’s easy to see how these creepy crustaceans got their name. Living in oceans all over the world, these shrimps hook onto seaweed and other animals, then reach out with their pinchers for just about anything that floats by.
Death’s-head hawk moth
Markings on this moth’s thorax look eerily similar to a human skull. But that’s not the only strange thing about this moth, common in Europe and Asia. When disturbed, the moth makes an eerie squeaking sound from accordion-like muscles behind its mouth.
This creature would be a terrible trick-or-treater. Although it looks like a fierce predator, this shark doesn’t chase its food. Scientists think that goblin sharks simply wait for a fish to swim close enough to become a shark’s snack.
Like a creature hiding under the bed, the gila monster will spend most of its life underground (but in a burrow). This lizard, which lives in the southwestern United States, may eat only three or four big meals a year. Its venom is about as toxic as a diamondback rattlesnake’s, but they don’t have as much of it and don’t inject it like a snake does.
You won’t find this yeti at the top of a mountain. The crab lives in deep-water oceans near hydrothermal vents, which can spew water over 700°F. Finding food in this harsh environment can be scary, so the crabs have hairlike structures on their chest and arms to attract—and even grow—yummy bacteria.
Text by Allyson Shaw, NGS Staff
Photo credits: Steve Downer, ardea (vampire squid); UNIVERSAL PICTURES, THE KOBAL COLLECTION (Dracula); Jean-Paul Ferrero, Auscape, Minden Pictures (ghost bat); UNITED ARTISTS, THE KOBAL COLLECTION (ghost); Konart, Dreamstime (thorny devil); WALT DISNEY, THE KOBAL COLLECTION (devil); Tim Heusinger Von Waldegge, Dreamstime (skeleton shrimp); WARNER BROS., THE KOBAL COLLECTION (skeleton); Jordi Roy, Shutterstock (death’s-head hawk moth); Saniphoto, Dreamstime (skull); SeaPics (goblin shark); JIM HENSON PRODUCTIONS, THE KOBAL COLLECTION (goblin); Mgkuijpers, Dreamstime (gila monster); UNIVERSAL, THE KOBAL COLLECTION (monster); IFREMER, A.FIFIS, National Geographic Creative (yeti crab); Viktor Golenkovs, Dreamstime (yeti)