When someone utters the words “woods” or “forest,” I’m sure a lot of you feel a slight chill come up your spine, as you imagine all manner of dark and ominous things lurking in the dense thicket, beneath the deepest shadows of old, twisted trees. It’s an ancient fear all humans harbor in the back of their subconscious — and the inspiration for centuries of myths, legends, fairytales and campfire ghost stories.
Modern tech-savvy folks like us too often dismiss the dangers of venturing into the woods, our ever-present smartphones packed with all the handy apps we need to beam technological enlightenment onto the dark path ahead… but as horror movies have taught us, we’re just a few signal bars away from living in a wide-awake nightmare.
Wait, did you take that to mean this kind of stuff only happens in horror movies? Sorry to bust your bubble, but that’s totally not true.
As a matter of fact, the following forest-based stories are ripped straight from recent news headlines…
Helmet-Cam Shows Slovakian Cyclists Being Chased by a Huge Bear
It may look like a teaser from a nature-gone-amok movie shot in found-footage style, but this terrifying POV camera clip making the rounds this week is apparently the real deal.
The clip was posted yesterday to YouTube by user Dusan Vinzik — presumably the same man whose helmet-cam captured the terrifying moment when a massive bear emerges from the woods, running at top speed after a second bicycle rider up ahead. The cyclists were reportedly traveling a bike trail in Slovenia’s Malino Brdo park when the bear made its move.
The animal can be seen keeping up the chase for a few yards, during which the operator can be heard shouting something at their friend (perhaps some variation on “Must go faster?”) before it finally gives up and shambles away from the trail.
Vinzik and his cycling buddy are very lucky that bear gave up the chase… because their bike path apparently comes to a dead end just moments after their pursuer leaves. Uh… damn.
Cute Deer Spotted Gnawing on Human Remains in Texas Wilderness
Yes, this is completely factual — little Bambi there really is munching on a human bone. But before you start freaking out (and picturing that creepy deer scene from TRAIN TO BUSAN), you can rest assured this white-tailed deer is not a flesh-hungry rage beast; the dead body in question is actually long-dead and decomposed. But the creepiest part of this story actually turns out to be the location where this deer was grabbing a light snack.
The photo was snapped by an automated camera mounted in a so-called “body farm” in the wilds of Texas, where researchers from Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Research Facility study the effects of decomposition with real human cadavers left to the elements. Those “elements” contributing to the breakdown of dead tissue in the wild (defined as taphonomy), include local fauna like the aforementioned critter — who, according to the facility’s May 2 report in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, is the first documented case of a deer partaking of this practice.
Unfortunately, the report does not indicate whether we should now avoid petting zoos for fear of losing a limb.
New York Trail Cam Snaps “Mystery Girl” Photo, Thousands Claim She’s a Ghost
It’s amazing how much a single image can spark a firestorm of social-media craziness [here are some notable examples], and this is just the latest of many such “mystery” photos to go viral with insane theories before all the facts are in.
When the above photo — taken by a trail camera in the woods of New York’s Cambridge Park — got loose on Facebook, it touched off a firestorm of speculation about the identity of the young girl shown. The seemingly half-translucent image led many amateur ghost-hunters to believe the photograph depicted a spirit, perhaps that of a murdered or long-lost child, or some other non-corporeal being.
After nearly two months of panicked phone calls and emails, local authorities were finally able to confirm the girl is very much alive and human — at least according to her grandfather, the owner of a nearby ski resort. According to ABC News 10 in Albany, the grandfather recently called the Washington County Police, who had been hoping to put this case to bed.
Millions of Crabs Swarm Out of Cuba’s Forests and Into People’s Homes
Sure, this kind of event is perfectly natural, and it usually happens every year around the same time… but that doesn’t make it any less horrifying, especially for anyone even slightly creeped out by eight-legged, clawed, stalk-eyed creatures that tend to walk sideways and eat rotting corpses — sort of like the deer I told you about, only not quite so adorable.
For non-residents, Cuba’s Bay of Pigs might be more familiar as the site of a failed US invasion… but a totally different kind of siege has been taking place in that area over the past couple of weeks. After the first big rain of the season, literally millions of Cuban land crabs are emerging from the inland forests where they spend most of their lives, steadily swarming en masse across towns, roads, residences and businesses in a long march to the sea, where the crustaceans go to spawn. On the way, many thousands of unfortunate crabs are crushed by passing cars, and their sharp claws frequently blow smaller vehicles’ tires out.
Amazingly, the annual migration is a major tourist draw, especially now that Cuba has become more accessible to foreign visitors lately… but if you’re on a culinary adventure, don’t try to eat these particular crabs for dinner; locals claim their meat is poisonous to humans.