Rat king in the scientific museum Mauritianum Altenburg, Germany:

Rat kings are phenomena said to arise when a number of rats become intertwined at their tails, which become stuck together with blood, dirt, ice, excrement or simply knotted. The animals reputedly grow together while joined at the tails. The numbers of rats that are joined together can vary, but naturally rat kings formed from a larger number of rats are rarer. The phenomenon is particularly associated with Germany, where the majority of instances have been reported. Historically, there are various superstitions surrounding rat kings, and they were often seen as an extremely bad omen, particularly associated with plagues. MORE.

Vile.

Watch on mundus-absconditus.tumblr.com

This is a video showing a person killing a praying mantis virtually taken over by a huge parasite of the species Nematomorpha (horsehair worm). When the mantis dies, the parasite evacuates its host. These parasitic worms grow up to 100 cm in length, with extreme case specimens reaching 200 cm. The infection they infest their host with can ‘program’ the hosts brain and cause it to drown itself, returning the nematomorph parasite to water. 

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Cockroaches and rubber duckies, what’s not to love? Artist Catherine Chalmers is completely fascinated by creatures that most people consider vermin. From rodents to insects, she travels the world for her science-based art and hope it makes viewers question how we perceive these animals.

“I’m interested in investigating how we relate to nature from a cultural perspective,” says Chalmers, who lives in New York City. “I feel that somewhere through the march of time we’ve placed certain animals and insects in nature on another level. They’ve been walled off.”

For Residents, a series focused on the American Cockroach - possibly the world’s most dreaded insect, Catherine photographed the all-too-familiar brown insects going about surprisingly human lives inside the human setting of a dollhouse.

“Cockroaches are such a loaded subject and I wanted to think about why we hate them so much,” she says. “They certainly terrified me.”

It’s a play on the real world, she says, and is meant to show how even though we are obsessed with getting rid of cockroaches, our dwellings have actually created the perfect environment for them to thrive.

“Our natural habitat has become their natural habitat,” she says.

This is Catherine’s effort to show us how creatures that make so many of us recoil in disgust are not so different from ourselves. Visit her website to view more of her work and head over to Wired for a fantastic interview.

[via Beautiful Decay and Wired]

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