Thursday, September 30, 2010

Creature Feature: Cone Snail.

Snails are on the list of "gross but innocuous" creatures that most people look at without a second thought. The French eat them, but most people overlook the array of amazing slugs, let alone amazing snails.

Snails made most of those awesome shells you can pick up at the ocean. Conches are snails; like oysters, they produce valuable pearls. Conches will probably get their own entry at some point, but for now...

The slug in there is quite pretty, too.

There are some snails that can actually kill you. No, they do not feed on human flesh like something out of a horror flick; their poison just so happens to affect fish and you.

It's a shame, 'cause these are some REALLY pretty shells!

The snails in the genus Conus, AKA cone snails, are all at least mildly venomous. They are easily recognized by their simple, fairly smooth shell with a giant point towards the tip. They eat fish, marine worms and even each other with one of the most awesome weapons possible: A poisonous harpoon in their shells.

The harpoon I knew about. The swallowing I did not. Holy carp!

Cone snail stings range from 'mildly irritating' to 'put you in the E.R.' The smaller species are generally safe; the larger ones can puncture wetsuits with their little harpoons and hit you with a nasty dose of tetrodotoxin.

Yeah, that poison again. You saw it in pufferfish and the blue-ringed octopus. It causes severe paralysis; if it reaches the lungs, a single shot is deadly. As always, some of the most lethal snails are in Australia.

There is no antivenin for this snail's venom, but pharmacists, being pharmacists, are messing with it anyways. Despite being scarred for one's remaining life, paralysis is generally one of the least painful ways to go out; pharmacists are interested in turning this deadly poison into a painkiller.

Oh, those crazy pharmacists. Surely there is no way this could go wrong.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Creature Feature: Mata mata

Turtles are cute, slow, lovable and most of them would not hurt a fly. Some of them would not mind a vertebrate now and again, but for the most part, they are one of the least objectionable reptiles in the world. It's hard to have a turtle-phobia.

AAAH, REPTILES! Oh, wait...those are actually kinda cute.

Nature just had to make one of the fish-eating turtles as ugly as possible:

Remember, turtles are naturally adorable.

Meet the matamata (Chelus fimbriatus), a turtle native to the Amazon River and some of the surrounding swamps. It is very lazy and very flat; quite easy to mistake for leaves or driftwood from above. Like the three-toed sloth, algae growing on its carapace makes its camouflage even better. It has a 'horn' that allows it to get air while barely moving a muscle. The matamata is probably the real version of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Hanging down from its face and neck are fleshy little projections. Nobody really knows what these are for; they could add to the matamata's already superb camouflage, serve as subtle lures or even be sensory adaptations.

As unsuspecting fish draw near, the matamata opens its mouth to create a small vacuum. Like something out of a cartoon, the fish are sucked in. The matamata cannot chew due to its odd mouth, but with a contraption like that, it does not need to.

Mata mata are native to humid environments. Although they are available in the exotic pet trade, they are not a beginner's turtle; not only are they expensive, but they like slightly acidic water with a high tannin content. If all of that just went WAY over your head, you can't have one.

"They Actually Eat That:" Foie Gras.

Ah, France. Home of Notre Dame, l'Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and fine cuisine. Fine, disgusting cuisine.

The chocolate and such is all right. It's when you get into what they consider cuisine that you have to wonder what the hell went wrong. The whole frog-eating thing is 100% true, as is eating snails (classily called escargot). Frogs and snails...aren't those two of the ingredients that go into making little boys?

Then they have this. Oh, gosh, there is NO way to make this one look good without turning it into a fine paste, France.

They Actually Eat That?!

Well, it doesn't look like that when it gets to your table. It looks more like this:

Sometimes, there's even more garnish or sauce.

Foie gras (lit. ''fatty liver") is made from the fattened liver of a goose or duck. It can be sold as mousse, parfait or pate, which all sound pretty classy given that it is still an animal's liver. There is a VERY good chance that you will never want to order it off of a French restaurant's menu again after reading this entry.

If liver was not gross enough already, the French have found a million ways to make the geese suffer in the process. Sure, they're free to frolic about as little goslings...but as soon as possible, they are stuffed into little box-like cages for phase two of foie gras preparation:

Is it just me or are these particular geese possessed, too?

Europe is more humane than people in the U.S. to many of their animals. These geese are not among them. After being crammed into tiny cages, they are force-fed corn ("gavaged") until their livers turn yellow with fat. Then the organ is made into whatever classier form you like.

This doesn't look half bad. I avoid most meat and I'm salivating a little.

France not only considers this a perfectly legitimate part of their culture, but did not invent that method of force-feeding. It goes all the way back to ancient Egypt. Yes, the Egyptians gavaged their geese; it was fairly well-known throughout the ancient world. It will not being going away any time soon, unlike the perfectly preventable (and equally sick) factory farming.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Creature Feature: Springhaas.

I was debating whether to do something cute or terrifying for today. The coin voted cute. Who am I to defy it?

Is it a rabbit? A baby kangaroo? A new, top-selling pet made by marketing committees and horrific adorable genetic splicing?

Furby, eat your chip out.

Oh, I wish. The springhaas/springhare (Pedetes capensis) is a vulnerable rodent from southern Africa. They are nocturnal animals that eat plants and insects. Most of their time is spent in burrows; their paws are equipped for digging and their ears are designed to keep sand out.

These guys have had taxidermists stumped for centuries. Is it a hare or a rodent? Should we lump it in with other rodents, or give it is own group? How many plushies of it should we order? Seriously, though, this little guy is pretty much his own group now. Adorable and weird have never looked so good together.

Despite being listed as "vulnerable," several people have springhares as pets. What, you thought they weren't cute enough to smuggle?

Even CITES couldn't stop this one from getting through.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Creature Feature: Hagfish

Wait a minute. It's not time for "They Actually Eat That!" What gives, Kuro?

This one was gross enough to warrant its own entry beyond "They Actually Eat That." Hagfish (class Myxini) are disgusting, slimy and fascinating enough to be cool without being food, even if Korea does eat them. If you're trying to not be a nation of weird food, Korea, you are failing. Dog I'll buy, but what conditions led to hagfish on the menu? You'll see why this is gross as hell in a sec. Condoms are not involved in my reasoning.

Hagfish are not technically fish. Although they look a lot like eels, they have no spinal cord or jaws to speak of - the only bone in their bodies is their skull. (This makes them technically invertebrates.) They do not have toothy jaws, instead having toothy projections in their mouths that just act like teeth. Their mouths are also framed with bar- no, wait, those are totally tentacles from a Japanese porno mag.

This is seriously Grade A Fetish Fodder.

Freaked out yet? No? Keep reading and watching:

Hagfish are slimy. That is not an opinion, it is a fact. Their long, eel-like bodies are covered in a mucous coating that makes them extremely slippery and becomes stinky, gooey gunk when mixed with water. This slime can turn a 5-liter bucket of water into nothing but slime in mere minutes. A hagfish is so slimy that it has to tie itself in a knot just so that it can breathe outside of its own slime every now and then.

As one might be able to guess from all of its primitive traits, the hagfish has gone unchanged for eons. The hagfish first appeared around 330 million years ago in the Late Carboniferous Period - waaaayyyyyy earlier than the dinosaurs everyone knows and loves. Scientists are not kidding when they say that this creature is almost an evolutionary transition point from invertebrates to fish. Now, if only it could evolve to produce just a little less slime.

If you need to do acrobatics just to get out of your own self-defense, something is wrong.

Hagfish are in every ocean, spanning 5 genera. Several new species have recently been discovered in the deepsea abyss - y'know, the place where nightmares are born and Cthulhu has a sweet pad called R'lyeh. Sleep tight.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Creature Feature: Secretary Bird.

Oh, hey, speaking of things that look like dinosaurs but aren't, here's a secretary bird.

If you want evidence that birds came from dinosaurs, look no further than the secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius). This cursorial hunter (remember the Java green?) is native to the plains of Africa. No, it does not take notes for you; supposedly, the name comes from the quill feathers on the bird's head. Its generic name is Sagittarius, "archer," also relates to the bird's head feathers resembling a quiver of arrows.

Disney, you could've shown one of these off in The Lion King. Most badass secretary ever.

This thing is a raptor in both senses of the word: It is both related to birds of prey (called raptors) and looks like a feathered dinosaur. Specifically, secretary birds are related to kites, buzzards and vultures.

The secretary bird is renowned (and, of course, praised) for killing snakes. Unlike the crested serpent eagle from China, secretaries do not just kill snakes - they stomp them. They even go nuts with fake snakes.

Call me crazy for linking a Spanish vid if you like...damn if the baby secretaries aren't cute, though.

The secretary bird also has one of the weirdest bird calls I have ever heard in my life. It's not a whistle, screech or song. It' It sounds almost like a very large frog croaking and I cannot find a single soundbyte of it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Creature Feature: Dimetrodon.

I have been doing a lot of mammals this past week. Pop quiz: What makes a mammal a mammal?

If you answered fur/hair, three middle ear bones, a neocortex and milk, good for you. Most of you probably only knew two out of those and maybe had an inkling about the brain. The least commonly known feature about the three ear bones is actually really, really important.

That's ALL it takes to be considered a mammal. Live births are done by every vertebrate except birds; some mammals lay eggs. Even being warm-blooded is barely a qualifier, seeing as naked mole rats and a few other underground mammals have had to turn off their inner furnaces.

O hai.

Now, suppose that you were given an unknown skull. How would you know if it was a mammal or a reptile? You do not have fur, nipples or brain tissue to work with, so what is left?

Yep. Those darn ear bones.

During mammalian evolution, something weird happened to the mammalian jaw. It lost two components that evolved into two tiny little ear bones that gave them a greater range of hearing and a more solid jaw. Looking for these is a pretty good indicator that you have a mammal on your hands and not another lizard.

An even better indicator is the teeth. Reptiles rarely have differentiated teeth; they do not chew their food, they gulp it down. When they do have differentiated teeth, science usually cares enough to say it in Greek.

Skull of Heterodon ('different tooth') nasicus, the Western hognose snake. This snake will get its own entry at some point- probably whenever Kuro gets a legal permit to handle them.

Thus, Dimetrodon - 'two-measure tooth.'

Mammals had epic ancestors.

Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur. It lived during approximately the right age (but earlier than the Triassic) and had a fin like Spinosaurus, but it was not a dinosaur. Look at the legs and how very lizardlike they are; that should be a sign. More importantly, look at the teeth.

Dimetrodon was a synapsid - a distant relative of mammals. It was probably an apex predator. There are also several other sail-finned synapsids, but similar to how T-Rex is representative of an age when dinosaurs ruled the Earth (even though it was only around in the Cretaceous Period- the LAST period of the Mesozoic), Dimetrodon represents all synapsids. Rarely is it acknowledged as such, although The Simpsons did a pretty good job:

(Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus never lived at the same time, BTW.)

In many plastic Dimetrodon specimens, the teeth are homogenous. One look at the jaw on a real specimen tells you that they are not. There's a ridge on each side with three teeth that are clearly larger than the rest, indicating that Dimetrodon could shear smaller chunks of meat off of its kill for easier digestion. This is more characteristic of modern mammals than of lizards (although some dinosaurs did sport different teeth as well; T-Rex had a far more regular formation of two different sizes of teeth).

Compared to avian evolution, mammalian evolution gets very little press. Gee, I wonder why...

When the Good Book goes bad.

Modern mammals are still classified and distinguished by their dentition. Even though some mammals lack teeth entirely (anteaters and pangolins come to mind), this stuff still matters. Mammals are not as homogenous as most people think they are; they have just as obscure methods of classification as birds and reptiles.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Creature Feature: The Nutria.

Do you like rats?

Honestly, rats have a lot to like about them, even if they did unintentionally wipe out half of Europe. They're fuzzy, intelligent and make excellent lab subjects since they are so biologically similar to humans. They make good pets with as many colors as melanin can muster. They clean up our mess and get shit in return. If nothing else, they are extremely versatile creatures.

Our bad. Also, it's your fault for leaving that grain where we could get it, you slobs.

You'd think a bigger rat would be like a giant, buck-toothed plushie, right?

Wait a sec. What the fuck is that?! It looks like Raticate from Pokemon made into flesh!

Actually, yeah, it is. The nutria, also called the coypu, beverrat, or Myocastor coypus is a giant water rat native to South America. It was the basis for the annoyingly-common Raticate from Generation 1 of Pokemon. It was also farmed for its fur and found a home everywhere except Australia. Australia wiped out rabbits with a rabbit-killing virus; imagine what they could do to this thing besides make fur coats out of it.

Like beavers, nutria have orange enamel coating their ever-growing teeth. They do not build dams like beavers, but, being semi-aquatic rodents, have webbed hind feet and thick pelts. Their water-dwelling lifestyle has also led them to develop nipples on their flanks instead of their underbellies.

Nutria used to be farmed for their fur and low-cholesterol meat. Farming them, however, was not very profitable; many of them either escaped or were released. They were regarded as an invasive pest and have since been eradicated in several of the United States. Good riddance, in most cases, although its adaptability is impressive.

So, should you see one outside of South America, feel free to attack it with whatever bizarre creature you have that can control plants, fire, or water. The giant rat shouldn't be there.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Creature Feature: Mini Cows.

Take a deep breath after those last two entries. You deserve something cute if you read them. I do not mean cute in my own perverse sense of cute, I mean cute that leads to a general "d'awww!" from most people.

Ready? OK, good.

Yes, that is a really small cow. Miniature cattle only get 36-46 inches in height, making them ideal for aspiring mini-dairy farmers, mini-butchers and cow lovers who cannot afford a whole lot of farm space.

They are also darn adorable. Seriously, that's a cow the size of a dog, there. To put things in perspective, this is how big a regular Holstein gets:

(As I said in my aurochs entry, cows used to be even bigger. This cow was BRED DOWN to approximately 5 ft in height.)

There is not only one breed of miniature cattle. There are several. The Dexter and certain strains of Zebu (Bos primogenius indicus) were deemed 'naturally small' since they were developed before large size became desirable in cattle. Lately, crossing different breeds such as Holsteins or Angus into miniature strains has become common and, of course, profitable.

Also adorable.

Miniature cattle are steadily rising in popularity. One of the main reasons for this rise is that, the increased awareness of factory farming, more people would like to know where their food is coming from. The easiest way to know that for sure is to raise, milk and kill it yourself. These cows only take an acre or two of land per specimen, so they are a more manageable way to know where one's food has been.

Plus, they have been bred to look like pandas:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Creature Feature: Screw-worms.

(Warning: This entry is NOT for the faint of heart PERIOD. If you are squeamish, BACK OFF RIGHT NOW. Some of the pics I saw for this one made ME a little sick and I like to think that I have a strong stomach. Nature is not always pretty.)

So it's a zombie apocalypse. People are dying and un-dying left and right. You've got at least one gun and have barricaded yourself in the nearest Wal-Mart, although given the types of people who shop there, you wonder if maybe you were not better off with the zombies.

Braaains...and low, low prices on cheap craaap...

Then you remember that, wait a sec, there are a million things designed to feed off of dead tissue. Maggots come to mind (as vomit might to your throat). Whether they can feed off of undead tissue or not is another matter entirely. Regardless, there is another type of maggot that feeds on living tissue, so if you happen to be in Mexico-Central America when the apocalypse hits, you're safe either way. (There is another, almost entirely unrelated version of this one in other tropical parts of the world, so you're probably cool there, too.)

I am not zooming up on this pic. No, no, no.

Wait. Wait. I just said that there was a maggot that fed off of living tissue. How the hell is that safe and where's a can of bug spray?!

The New World screw-worm fly (Cochliomyia hominivorax - nice species name!) lays its eggs in a mammal's bleeding wound. Yes, it could lay eggs in yours - like I said in the Toxoplasma entry, humans are just another mammal to nature. Try to kill the babies and the little worms will screw themselves deeper into one's flesh (hence the name - but the scientific name is so cool). (For those of you who do not understand Latin, the word "homo, hominis" means human and "vorax" is a cooler way of saying "eater.")

(I actually could not find a good video with these guys; they seem to have all been removed for obvious reasons.)

A brief reminder of why flies lay their eggs on dead animals: The maggots are born on their food so that they can start eating immediately. That means that whatever the screw-worms are laid on is going to find itself with a much bigger wound than before.


Like most small animals and insects, screw-worm flies breed often and have a lot of offspring in one sitting. The larvae pupate after anywhere from 3-7 days after hatching. After another week or so, the adult flies are ready to mate - and how! Females are promiscuous, mating with as many males as possible while they can. Each clutch contains up to 400 eggs, which can hatch into flesh-eating larvae in 12 hours. Their whole life cycle lasts 31 days max, during which the female can lay at least 2,800 eggs.

To be fair, adult New World screw-worm flies are HUGE and easily distinguishable from other flies. Oh, wait, that's still not fair.

Opening up a wound naturally leads to infection and even more screw-worms. Creatures infected by screw-worms usually die within a week or two due to infection, severe tissue damage, or any other combination of icky factors. (Zombies usually have infected wounds already, so they're prime targets for future punishment from these little nibblers.)

While you may be thinking, "Eww, I hope this doesn't happen while I'm eating a taco," the main concern with these guys is the damage that they do to livestock. Yeah, you're on the list, too, but the primary reasons behind the screw-worm's notoriety are economic. (To give you an idea of how drastic a blow this could be, a screw-worm infestation could easily cost cattle farms in Australia 500 million (Australian?) dollars in losses.) You are awfully close to a cow and people are more worried about the cow, a creature that oh, by the way, is responsible for global warming and removal of precious rain forest. I like cows just as much as the next person, but really? This might be a warning sign.

This is from Brazil, but makes the point pretty well.

Some of you will probably be relieved to hear that the screw-worm has been officially eradicated in the U.S. and several South American countries. Beware; everything in an ecological system has a niche. Who knows? Perhaps screw-worms are nature's answer to the impending zombie apocalypse. (Or maybe she's just trying to say, "Get the fuck out of the tropics, ranchers!")

Nah, screw-worms were totally made to be zombie deterrent. Or Wal-Mart shopper deterrent, take your pick.

"They Actually Eat That:" Dog.

The video speaks for itself, really. I do, however, have to add that that is an INTENSE test of courage; after all, it takes balls to kill a friend.

Hey, hey...did you guys name me Courage just to be ironic, or...?

They Actually Eat That?!

If the video above did not tip you off, yes, the rumors about Vietnam and Korea are true: They actually eat dogs.

One WONDERS how hellhound stories got started...

I hate to sound like a bitch (hah), but can you blame them? Dogs are almost everywhere. Somebody, somewhere, had to have eaten them at some point. It just took a creative soul to turn dog meat into culinary art.

Eating Fido is a LOT more common than you think it is. Seriously, the better question is why not eat dogs? The ancient Romans, French and Mexicans ate (and in Mexico, possibly STILL eat) dogs; China, Vietnam and Korea are notorious for canine cuisine. If we want to get really nasty, weak dogs have been fed to their own pack on several occasions. This is nothing new; pretty much as long as people have had dogs, people have eaten them. Whether they have kept up the tradition or not is another story.

So why does the tradition persist in Asian culture? It depends on where you go. The Chinese cite their old medicinal practices; many of them relate to retaining body heat. In Korea, they have been eating dog meat since the Neolithic and show no signs of stopping- if anything, some of them want canine cuisine to become more and more mainstream. It has a really nice taste, apparently.

Even in these countries, eating dog is not without controversy. "Dogs are friends, not food" gained ground with animal rights movements. Korea still asserts that at least some dogs are livestock, even though no legal yes or no has ever been given.

Korea in particular has had issues with whether dogs are food or not. There are always new lines being drawn regarding dog's status on Korean livestock and food lists. Nonetheless, many dog owners feel no inner conflict about eating dog meat.

The question is, how far do you go with something like this? One of the investigations in China only took hold because of how the dogs were treated - if cows were being skinned alive, a similar objection could have been reached. HOWEVER, people like PETA would like to cease human-animal interaction entirely. What's the stopping point? After all, chickens and cattle make fine pets, too. (Remind me to do a post on mini-cows...)

Then again, I'm all for consumption as a means of trimming away excess mammal populations. Hint, hint.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Creature Feature: Tokay Gecko.

Geckos are already pretty darn weird. They are the only lizards that make any sort of noise besides hissing. They can walk on walls thanks to special pads on their feet. They have eyes that stare into your soul as they tell you how to save money on car insurance. (In that case, it's usually in a good way.)

The only way to make them weirder? Give them chicken pox:

No PhotoShopping required.

The Tokay gecko's scientific name is Gekko gecko. That's right, this colorful little fellow is what gave all geckos their scientific and common names; it has all their superpowers and then some. Strangely, this one's probably the last lizard people picture when they hear the word 'gecko,' even though it looks pretty trippy for a lizard. Yes, that is their natural coloration; several morphs have nonetheless been developed in captivity.

Tokay geckos are native to many parts of Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. The lore around them varies depending on whom you ask, but some places realize that these geckos eat far more dangerous invertebrates such as centipedes and scorpions. More recently, they have also taken up residence in Texas, Hawaii, Belize and Florida as an invasive species. (Given all the reptile issues that Florida has, I STILL wonder why they host a GIANT REPTILE SHOW there every year. No offense, I LOVE reptiles, but the whole python ban thing was basically Florida's problem.)

Geckos got their name from the sounds that the Tokay gecko makes. As I said earlier, geckos are the only sort of lizard that make any noise besides hissing; geckos make clicky little sounds like this:

They are also vicious little biters. Once they bite down on, say, your hand, they do not let go for up to an hour. Tokays have been dubbed the "pitbulls" of the reptile world for their nasty, nasty bites. Holding the gecko in cold water and putting a bit of vinegar on the gecko's nose are both valid methods of getting these nippy critters off.

Yeah, I wouldn't ask these guys for car insurance if I were you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Creature Feature: Toxoplasma gondii.

If you have kept up with my dA page as well as this blog, you have probably noticed me watching a lot of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, an anime series based off of a phenomenally successful Japanese visual novel. One of the recurring themes later on in the series is a document that gets constantly debunked with the argument that no parasite could ever control a human mind.

My response to that: BAHAHAHA! That's a good one; I think I snorted pomegranate juice out of my nose. Joke's on you, suited motherfuckers! There are tons of parasites that do just that!

Ahem. Seriously, though? Your body has tons of parasites in it at this very moment. You are a warm-blooded mammal in proximity to many other warm-blooded mammals on a daily basis; that is paradise for any number of little critters. What on earth makes you less viable than a dog or cat as a host? For Ai's sake, there are two types of lice unique to humans - human head lice and human pubic lice. If complex invertebrates can evolve so specifically, imagine how many microbes have evolved just to feed on us.

Scary, isn't it?

Probably the most notorious brainwashing parasite is Toxoplasma gondii. Nature treats humanity like it's nothing special; T. gondii is really a cat parasite that just so happens to work for humans as well as several other animals.

It is as Ceiling Cat wishes.

T. gondii's life cycle starts out like something out of science fiction: First, the parasite infects a rat that has presumably had contact with cat feces. Then, in an amazing display of brainwashing, T. gondii removes the rat's fear of felines so completely that the rat is actually attracted to the scent of cat urine.

Suddenly, this makes sense.

As one may have expected, this leads to the rat getting eaten. The parasites then spend the rest of their lives in the cat's guts, mating and breeding there with few ill effects on the cat, until...

Toxy spreads like a YouTube meme: Through poop.

After being literally shat out of a cat's system, the cycle begins anew. Whenever a creature - including a human - comes into contact with cat crap, they risk acquiring the parasite.

Usually, it stays harmless; sure, the person may suddenly develop an affinity for cats, but otherwise it's nothing to worry about. It only kicks in when a human's immune system is weakened by pregnancy, AIDS or, well, any other method; then it becomes a potentially lethal infection called toxoplasmosis.

Pictured: A mild case of toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis attacks the glial cells in the brain. For those of us who are not neuroscientists, the glial cells help hold your neurons together and transmit a few signals of their own. They make up a very large percentage of the human brain - that's where that "you only use 10% of your brain" BS came from. The resulting infection thus has symptoms that resemble (and can be treated with medicine for) schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is not MPD. As per Wikipedia, the typical symptoms of schizophrenia are "A person diagnosed with schizophrenia may experience hallucinations (most commonly hearing voices), delusions (often bizarre or persecutory in nature), and disorganized thinking and speech." It's a lot more than the name ("split mind") lets on.

Severe toxoplasmosis at its finest.

But that's rare, right? Y'know, it probably only occurs in Africa or some other non-developed areas of the world...right? Right?!

No. Half of the human population on the whole entire planet is infected with Toxoplasmosa. Crap!

Want more details? Click here.

By the way, if you think dogs are a safer option, they have their own set of bugs for you to deal with. You aren't safe anywhere.

Don't worry, Mittens. We can't stay mad at you.