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100 MOST DISGUSTING THINGS ON THE PLANET
100 MOST DISGUSTING THINGS ON THE PLANET Published 2009 by A&C Black Publishers Ltd 36 Soho Square. SA. electronic or mechanical. Photolibrary/James Robinson . Shutterstock/Paul Prescott. Shutterstock/Ivelin Radkov.quarto. London W1D 3QY www. including photocopying. and designed by Marshall Editions The Old Brewery 6 Blundell Street London N7 9BH www. Shutterstock/David Dohnal. edited. Ardea/Johan De Meester. recording. FLPA/Nigel Cattlin. or by any information storage-and-retrieval system.com Copyright © 2009 Marshall Editions Conceived. © Dr. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means.com All rights reserved.acblack. ISBN: 978-1-4081-2420-8 Art director: Ivo Marloh Managing editor: Paul Docherty Project editor: Amy Head Layout: The Urban Ant Production: Nikki Ingram Picture research: Veneta Bullen Printed and bound in China by SNP Leefung Printers Ltd 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Cover: Corbis/Owen Franken. without permission in writing from the copyright holder. Nico J Smit/ University of Johannesburg. Corbis/Tim Davis.
Anna Claybourne 100 MOST DISGUSTING THINGS ON THE PLANET .
. . Tick . . . . . . . . . . . Venus flytrap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mosquito . . . . . . . . . . . Poo-covered beetle . . . . Flea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dung beetle . . . . . Tapeworm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bombardier beetle . . . . . . . . . Slime mould . . . . . . . Skunk . Titan arum . . . . Assassin bug . . . . . . . . . . Guinea worm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Housefly. . . . . . . . . . . . Dust mite . . . . . . . . Blobfish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Squirting cucumber . . Pitcher plant . . Surinam toad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vampire bat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .CONTENTS Introduction . . . . Giant jellyfish . . . . . . . . Tarantula . . . . . . . . . . Millipede . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Disgusting Nature Cockroach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Starfish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 Fieldfare . . Head louse . . . . . . Rafflesia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 . . Blowfly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pond slime . . . . . . . . Hagfish . . . . Eyelash mite. Stinkhorn . . Velvet worm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bedbug . . . . . . . . . . . . Botfly. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Komodo dragon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Horned lizard . . . . . . . Opossum . . Cane toad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jackal . . . . . . . Fulmar . . . . . . Disgusting red fungus . Stinking toe tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Giant isopod . . . . . Hippopotamus . . . . . . . . . . . Tongue-eating louse . . . . Roundworm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tarantula hawk wasp . . . . . . Vulture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Slugs and snails . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maggot therapy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Fried grasshoppers . . . . . . . . 83 Bee larvae . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Toilet . . . Burps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eye gunk . . . . . . . 73 Chocolate-covered ants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Animal feet . Earwax . . . . 79 Tripe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Witchetty grubs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dust . 77 Mopane worms. . . . Sneezing . . . . . . . . . . .Disgusting Humans Germs in cheese . . Phlegm . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Roasted spiders . . . Spider bite . . . Poo . . . . . . . 81 Rotten eggs . Pus . Tooth decay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Hákarl . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tooth plaque . . . . .000-year-old eggs . . . . . . . . . . . . Sweaty feet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flatulence . . . . . . . Sewer . . . . . 68 Eyeballs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Spit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Guga . . . . . . . . . . 84 Moose nose . . . . . 82 1. . . . . . . Wee . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leech healing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Snakebite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vomit . . . . . . 74 Mothburger . . . . . . 69 Durian . . . . . . . . . 112 . . . 86 Cobwebs . . . . 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 Acknowledgments . . Black mould . . . . 80 Sheep’s head . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Bird’s nest soup . . . 70 Civet coffee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Maggot cheese . . . . 85 Ant stitches . . . Snot . . . . 67 Chinese caterpillar fungus . . . . . . .
bulging eyes. For example. someone who finds the idea of blue cheese completely revolting might be happy to munch on a fried grasshopper. nasty smells. But don’t try cat . DELIGHTFUL TO ME A lot of “disgusting” things are only disgusting to some people and not to others. r own you ng chi try one. rotten food in your fridge. Someone else might think eating grasshoppers is vile but love eating prawns. There are lots of things that can do this. which would be extra-odd because grasshoppers and prawns actually belong to similar animal families – both have feelers. as you’ll see in this book. cie even be an endangered spe WARNING! . But what exactly does it mean to be “disgusting”? The word disgusting literally means something that tastes bad or makes you feel sick. do not on your k boo anything you read in this t serves tha t ran own. or carrying ger s. It could be ht mig It . yucky body bits. for example. and lots of wriggly legs. If you’re in a restau ad and ahe go fried insects. ous son poi and eating it. ms dangerous. and creepy-crawlies can all make you screw up your nose or back away in horror. DISGUSTING TO YOU. unusual This book describes a lot of ngs. thi g foods and other disgustin copy to try Whatever you do. Foods you ﬁnd revolting.6 INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION “Urggghh! That’s DISGUSTING!” You might hear someone saying that if they see you picking your nose or ﬁnd stinky.
Because they are forbidden.. is disgustingness only in the eye of the beholder? Not always. rude.. but we find it gross anyway.. It smells so bad that we instinctively know we need to keep away....... Stop that at once!” In some cultures..... in others.... and “That’s disgusting.. As a child..... people think it’s so horrible that they couldn’t do it if they tried..... Totally disgusting! ....... It’s called toilet humour...... almost everyone in the world finds poo disgusting.7 Snot. DEFINITELY DISGUSTING So.. spin their tails around when they poo.... maybe you still do! Maybe you’re itching to turn to the rudest. LEARNING DISGUST The truth is. you learn what is disgusting from people around you yelling “Oh! That’s gross”.. A little gross .. for example..... or mucus (see page 94). This natural reaction protects us from the dangerous germs in poo and helps us to stay healthy... Quite off-putting .. TOILET HUMOUR When you were four or five. helps us to stay healthy.... In all cultures..... we find many things disgusting because of our culture – the beliefs and values we grow up with.... there are things that are considered too private.. Hippopotamuses. Go ahead. For example. Really revolting . Yuck! . “Urggghh”..... spraying muck everywhere! YUCK FACTOR .. or disgusting to talk about. people – especially children – often find them fascinating and funny. yuckiest pages of this book and have a good giggle..... eating insects is normal..... you probably thought it was incredibly funny to shout “poo!” Hey.. turn the page! Many wild animals have their own revolting habits.... too...... for example (see page 37).. This is normal..
DISGUSTING From dung-munching beetles to ﬂesh-eating maggots. from stinky mushrooms to plants that can gobble up a mouse – the natural world is full of . from vomit-squirting baby birds to jelly-squirting cucumbers.
many of them are disgusting only to us – as far as they are concerned. they just survive.NATURE truly gross living things. like all life on Earth. Read on to ﬁnd out more about their horrible habits. . Of course.
but YUCK FACTOR! DISEASE SPREADERS cockroaches only bother you if you give them food. and even without its head! . Yuck! SPEEDY-CRAWLIES To keep cockroaches away. that’s like a human running at more than 300 km/h (190 mph). They often make people jump. so there’s nothing for them to nibble. TOP TIP! Cockroaches can run really fast – and this may be one reason why people find them so unnerving. And if there’s a big cockroach infestation. Like mice. DID YOU KNOW? A cockroach can survive for several weeks without eating. which comes from cockroach poo and dead cockroach bodies. Considering how small a cockroach is. Cockroaches do some really disgusting things. Always wipe up spilt food.10 DISGUSTING NATURE COCKROACH You open your cupboard and reach in for a packet of pasta – uurrrrggggh! It’s CRAWLING with cockroaches! Cockroaches (or “roaches”) are insects that look similar to beetles. to reach their top speed. really? No one loves them. some roaches stand up like humans and run on their hind legs. they can also give off a vile smell. they love sharing our homes and our food. A cockroach can skitter across your floor at 5. Cockroaches feast on someone’s half-eaten sandwich. They can spread dangerous disease germs. or run screaming from the room! But how revolting are they. shudder. And even weirder. keep all your food wrapped and sealed well.6 km/h (3½ mph).
Maggots cluster together in tight gaps and wriggle in disgusting. or go into a cocoon. They feed on the rotting flesh and grow bigger and bigger. But what we do find disgusting is baby blowflies – otherwise known as MAGGOTS! DEAD MEAT Female blowflies seek out dead animals by their stinky smell and then lay their eggs in them. They leave the rotting body and wriggle off in search of a good dry. metallic bodies in jewel-like blue and green. adult blowflies are not disgusting to look at – they’re amazingly beautiful. The eggs hatch into small. ON THE MOVE Next. They can tell by how big the maggots in the body have grown. A dead sheep or rat can often be teeming with maggots. If there’s a dead mouse hidden somewhere in your house. YUCK FACTOR! are Writhing. wriggly maggots. white. safe place to pupate. which look a bit like grains of rice. with their bright. the maggots have to pupate. to turn into adults. shiny heaps. wriggling maggots make totally harmless. the first sign might be when you find the maggots marching across the floor! .11 BLOWFLY As flies go. but can some people feel ill! CRIME CRACKERS Forensic scientists can use maggots to find out how long ago someone was murdered.
12 DISGUSTING NATURE HOUSEFLY Mmm. YUCK FACTOR! ch Few creatures spoil your lun y. flies can pick up all kinds of germs and parasites. a really disgusting housefly could have buzzed by and had a taste before MUCKY MAGGOTS you came along. And here’s Like blowflies. covered. and disgusting germs! TOP TIP! DISEASES As they buzz around. such as deadly foodpoisoning bacteria on raw meat. They lay their eggs in rubbish or animal poo. . the fly sucks up as much as it can. slurping houseflies feast on ham that has been left uncovered. which the maggots feed on.… FLY FEAST Houseflies have sponge-like mouths that can only soak up liquid food. if it’s been sitting there uncovered in warm weather. They then leave these everywhere they land. So. efl us ho the as dly quite as ba Buzzing. a housefly spits and vomits onto it. poo. so they leave that behind. unless you want it covered in fly spit. or botfly eggs (see page 13). houseflies what THAT involves. flies also poo constantly. especially in warm weather. While feeding. to make the food mushy and break it down into liquid. too! Keep all your food wrapped. Should you eat it? Why not?! Well. or in the fridge. lay eggs that hatch into wriggly maggots. you’ve just come indoors and there’s a tasty-looking cupcake sitting on the kitchen table. When it’s nice and runny. after landing on your cake. so they can spread lots of nasty diseases. leaving some spit and vomit behind.
rotting meat. This is what a botfly maggot looks like once it’s been pulled out of its cosy nest in your skin! BURROWING IN When a botfly egg hatches. other living animals – including horses. it lets go and drops out of its host’s skin onto the ground. painful. Totally gross! EGGS ON YOUR SKIN Botflies want to get their eggs onto the skin of their host (the animal they invade). itchy Being eaten alive by a wrigg botfly maggot takes the top revoltingness rating! If you think blowfly and housefly maggots are disgusting. They sometimes lay them directly on another animal’s skin. They don’t live in rubbish. and sometimes wriggly! You can also see a tiny air hole on the skin that the maggot uses to breathe through. growing fatter and fatter. the maggot immediately burrows under the skin and hangs on with tiny hook-like parts. it’s about to get a whole lot worse. ready to turn into an adult fly. Botfly maggots don’t live in old. It feeds on blood. and feed on. But human botflies lay their eggs on an insect. But as the maggot grows. and they don’t live in poo. cows … and humans. They live inside.BOTFLY YUCK FACTOR! ly. At last. it feels horribly itchy. which then leaves them on human skin. WHATÕ S IT LIKE? Most people donÕ t notice a botfly maggot in their skin at first Ð they just think itÕ s an insect bite. such as a housefly or mosquito. .
ARE THEY MONSTERS? Tarantulas look terrifying. It can kill and eat small birds. Some can actually flick these hairs right off their bodies at any animal that attacks them. they dribble digestive chemicals onto their food to liquefy it before sucking up the juice. What nice manners! grasshopper. fattest. the most horrible of all are probably tarantulas – the biggest. the Goliath bird-eating spider. is a tarantula with a leg span of up to 30 cm (12 in). They have sharp fangs that inject poison into their prey.14 DISGUSTING NATURE TARANTULA Many people fear and loathe spiders and find them revolting – scientists are not sure why. olting. DID YOU KNOW? The worldÕ s biggest spider. some people find them rev Others keep them as pets! A tarantula’s hairs help it sense other animals nearby by detecting vibrations from their movements. and are dangerous if you breathe them in or get them in your eyes. lizards. They roll the dried-up leftovers into a tidy little ball. But if you do feel like this about spiders. These hairs can kill some small animals. about as bad as a bee sting – but they are not killers. They can be quite disgusting. frogs. They also give humans a nasty skin rash. and mice! . and hairiest spiders in the world. A tarantula devours a YUCK FACTOR! HORRIBLY HAIRY but only They look hairy and scary. though. and like some other creatures. but they aren’t actually the most dangerous spiders. Most can give you an unpleasant bite. Many tarantulas also have special stinging hairs to repel predators.
EATEN ALIVE When the larva. The female hunts tarantulas. as it grows bigger and stronger. a tarantula hawk wasp approaches its much larger prey. They can sting and drag tarantulas much bigger than themselves. but the face of a tarantula hawk wasp. keep away. . Then. eating it alive. a big.DISGUSTING NATURE 15 TARANTULA HAWK WASP Worse than any tarantula is the tarantula hawk wasp. it’s incredibly painful. She drags the still-living spider into a burrow and lays her egg on it so that her baby has a fresh food supply. hairy tarantula. to keep the spider alive and fresh for as long as possible! SIZE AND STRENGTH Tarantula hawks are big for wasps Ð about 5 cm (2 in) long Ð but not as big as most tarantulas. They feed on nectar and rotting fruits that contain alcohol. it starts sucking bodily fluids from the tarantula’s paralyzed body. This is not a terrifying space robot. They have huge stings. hatches from the egg. paralyzing them with a potent sting. or baby wasp. Here. it burrows into the tarantula’s body. making them dizzy and unable to fly! TOP TIP! If you see one of these giant wasps. YUCK FACTOR! still Eating a whole spider that’s ! up w gro to alive is a gross way DIFFERENT DINNER Adult tarantula hawk wasps don’t eat meat. and if they zap you. It saves the organs for last. But she doesn’t eat them.
tropical parts of the world. and squishy – but unlike earthworms. They range from the size of a grain of rice to 15 cm (6 in) long. Munch! Squirt! This sticky glue will trap the velvet worm’s prey. They got their name because their skin is covered in fine bristles and scales that feel velvety to the touch. AARRGGH! MY EYES! Velvet worms cannot bear bright light. around sniffing out things to eat. sticky. it sneaks silently towards it. They’re not large. SPLURT! TIME FOR LUNCH! Velvet worms like darkness and usually hunt by night. gluey stuff all over its victim from two swivelling squirters on the sides of its head. They slither YUCK FACTOR! This is one worm you don’t want to meet on a dark night. but they have icky hunting and feeding habits that allow them to prey on spiders. the glue starts to harden. all velvet worms are fierce hunters. Velvet worms are similar to earthworms – they’re long. If you shine a torch at one. insects. trapping the prey and holding it still. but however big they are. using their highly sensitive antennae. Velvet worms are weird creatures found in caves and undergrowth in damp. chubby legs. The velvet worm slices up its meal with super-sharp jaws and gobbles up the bits. wriggly. As soon as the glue is exposed to the air. they have up to 86 short. the worm shoots lots of white.16 DISGUSTING NATURE VELVET WORM CREEPY AND CRAWLY DID YOU KNOW? The velvet worm can also use its squirty glue to fend off predators. snails. The prey may know nothing until the worm is right next to it. it will scuttle away into a dark crevice. Once a velvet worm smells its prey. Suddenly. and other worms much bigger than themselves. .
It forms a kind of armour plating. Depending on the species. thick coating of poo. It then hardens into a solid protective shell – lucky babies! DOES IT WORK? Scientists have tried testing these larvae to see if their poo blanket really does put off predators. hatches. to protect them from deadly predators. hiding beneath its protective poo shield. the mother beetle carefully spreads her own poo all over them. YUCK FACTOR! the It sounds disgusting. This tiny but stinky pile of poo is actually a tortoise beetle larva. SMELLY EGGS The baby beetles get their first stinky covering before they even hatch. POO ARMOUR Once each larva. the larva covers itself with poo in the form of blobs. but that all ’t hardened poo shell isn o! po g do bad – not as stinky as . it keeps the covering from its egg and adds to the shell-like covering using its own poo.DISGUSTING NATURE 17 POO-COVERED BEETLE Several species of beetle have a strange habit that would certainly be disgusting if we ever tried it! They give their babies a lovely. It does! Both young chickens and hunting ants refused to eat the poo-coated beetle babies. strings. which scientists call a “faecal shield”. or sticky gloop. or baby beetle. After laying her eggs.
and it’s good for putting off hungry millipede hunters. They have more legs than any other animal on Earth. millipedes mostly mind their own business. Most millipedes are only a few centimetres long. Their legs ripple in a wave-like pattern as they glide and slither smoothly through leaf litter and soil. from tiny openings along their bodies. But the giant African millipede is a monster that can grow to be more than 30 cm (12 in) long and is as thick as your thumb. Like many creepy-crawlies d an millipedes can look scary d! ba t horrible. DID YOU KNOW? Most millipedes only have between 50 and 400 legs. but they’re not tha a stinging. burning liquid. They don’t hunt or eat other animals. some millipede species can release Imagine how this giant millipede must tickle as all its tiny legs skitter over your hands! . burrowing through soil and rotting plants. but one was found to have 750! LEAKING ACID However. They are mostly harmless. munching as they go. or even a poisonous gas. plump bodies and tiny. MONSTER MILLIPEDES MUD MUNCHER Like earthworms. wriggly legs – especially if they meet a giant millipede! YUCK FACTOR! .18 DISGUSTING NATURE MILLIPEDE Millipedes are the ultimate creepy-crawlies. and if they’re in danger they curl up into a tight coil. It’s strong enough to burn human skin. such as birds. but many people are horrified by their shiny. if under attack.
then slurping them up like a fresh smoothie. found in North and Central America. stabbing a soft body part. kissing bugs can spread a serious disease called Chagas disease. such as beetles. and sucking out some blood. flexible straw. turning the insect's insides to liquid. Then all the bug has to do is suck it all At least assassin bugs are too small to eat humans! Well. or shell-like covering. It’s so strong that it can puncture the hard exoskeleton. up. Lovely! Aaarrgggh! There’s no hope for this ladybird as an assassin bug spears it and sucks out its insides. the bug squirts its digestive juices into its prey’s body. This disgusting creepy-crawly likes nothing more than devouring its fellow insects alive by injecting them with spit that dissolves their insides.DISGUSTING NATURE 19 ASSASSIN BUG The assassin bug certainly lives up to its name. TOP TIP! As well as being disgusting. lun its revolting way of getting assins crawl over a Brightly coloured ass Central America. sharp. KISS FROM A BUG LIQUEFIED! Next. not quite. such as the lip. The assassin bug sneaks up and stabs prey in the back when they aren’t looking. too. So don’t forget your mosquito net! . sometimes grabbing hold of them with its sticky feet. leaving an empty husk. in t leaf in a rainfores STABBING STRAW The assassin bug’s mouth is shaped like a long. Some assassin bugs. YUCK FACTOR! usly This beastly bug has a serio ch. will also attack humans while they sleep. of other insects. Because of this they are called “kissing bugs”. Their hunting technique enables them to feed on insects much bigger than themselves.
though an attack can hurt and make your skin blister. all within a split second. this little beetle will quickly swivel its rear end towards you and shoot out a deadly spray – an explosive mixture of hot. such as spiders or frogs. revolting-smelling liquid and gas that can badly burn your skin. . where they combine and cause a chemical reaction that makes heat and gas. spray is A jet of boiling-hot beetle ! more funny than disgusting Bombardier beetles aren’t really very dangerous to humans. but 500 or more times in quick succession. A bombardier can swivel its tail end around to aim its weapon anywhere.20 DISGUSTING NATURE BOMBARDIER BEETLE Don’t mess with this beetle! If it thinks it’s in danger. the beetle squeezes these two chemicals into another chamber. When danger threatens. you can hear a popping or hissing sound. The pressure from the gas makes the mixture shoot out of the beetle’s behind. But their ferocious spurt of chemicals can seriously injure or even kill small hunting animals. When it attacks. WHO FEARS THE SPRAY? DID YOU KNOW? The bombardier doesnÕ t just shoot once. which prey on beetles. each filled with a different chemical. HOW DOES IT DO IT? YUCK FACTOR! The beetle’s body contains two tiny tanks.
DiSGUSTiNG NATURE 21
A dung beetle spends its life seeking out one thing – smelly, sticky dung (animal poo). To a dung beetle, dung is a source of food and a place to lay its eggs so that its babies can feed on bits of chewed, pooed-out plants in the dung as they grow.
Dung beetles actually do a very useful job for us. The dirty poo they tidy away and bury in the ground makes the soil more fertile for growing crops.
ung beetles often try to steal D each other’s precious dung balls and have fights over them. When a beetle rolls a dung ball away, it moves in a completely straight line to get away from other beetles using as little energy as possible. At night, it uses the moon for navigation – its own kind of GPS! To the ancient Egyptians, dung beetles were sacred – they represented the sun god, Ra, rolling the sun across the sky each day.
Dung beetles find their dung, usually from plant-eating animals, such as cows, using their sense of smell. Or they follow animals around and sit patiently, waiting for them to make a poo.
“I SMELL DUNG!”
Some dung beetles live in piles of dung, but most shape it into neat balls, roll it away, and bury it in the ground to keep it safe. Then they lay eggs inside the dung ball and guard the babies as they grow inside it.
eating Dung is yucky to us, but by and burying it, dung beetles help get rid of it!
Mmm, dinner! Dung beetles close in on a fresh pile of dung.
22 DiSGUSTiNG NATURE
horrifies This fascinating creature of its se cau people largely be looks. ” se lou scary “giant wood
It has a face like an alien, with giant, glittery, reflective eyes. It has 14 jointed, creepy-crawly legs. It looks very like a pale, purplish grey woodlouse – and in fact, it is closely related to woodlice – but it grows to almost 40 cm (16 in) long, the size of a domestic cat. You might be pleased to hear that this monstrous creature lives in the sea, so you won’t be finding it under a stone in your garden – but many people still find the giant isopod one of the ugliest and most revolting creatures on the planet.
The giant isopod lives on the deep seabed, where it creeps through the muddy ooze, scavenging for dead sea creatures. Like many scavengers, it can go a long time without food, then fill itself to the brim when it gets the chance. When they lay eggs, female isopods grow a special pouch, like a kangaroo’s, to hold the eggs and newly hatched babies.
keep them in tanks at home as pets, and there are some aquariums where you can see living specimens on public display.
This giant isopod lives in the deep, icy-cold waters around the Antarctic.
Giant isopods sometimes get caught in deep-water trawling nets or special traps. Some people
dId YOU KNOW?
In some parts of Asia, giant isopods are considered a delicacy. Like woodlice, they are related to crabs and lobsters, and their meat tastes similar to lobster.
DiSGUSTiNG NATURE 23
SLUGS ANd SNAILS
y slugs Uuurrrrggghh! The feeling of a They’re harmless, but slim some e giv lly and snails can rea cold, damp, slimy slug on your s. ep cre people the skin is repellent. Slugs and snails feel this way because of the sticky, slippery slime that oozes out of them wherever they go. We also find their soft, squishy bodies horrible when we accidentally step on and squash one.
Slugs and snails secrete most of their slime from the underside of their tough, crawling “foot”. It lets them slide along smoothly and helps them to climb up walls and plants on which they feed. They also have slime all over their bodies, which is good for slipping out of the grip of hungry birds.
WHY SO SLIMY?
Snails are a well-known favourite food in France, where they are baked with garlic butter. They are also a popular food in parts of Africa, where the giant African land snail can grow up to 20 cm (8 in) long.
Snails and slugs can sniff each other’s slime to find out which species they each come from. This helps them find a mate of the same species as themselves.
You can see the slimy undersides of these two snails as they coil around a plant stem.
HMM, WHO’S BEEN HERE?
Slugs and snails may look different, but they are actually very similar. A snail is just a slug with a shell. Both belong to an animal family called the gastropods, meaning “stomach feet”.
Both snails and slugs have eyes on the ends of two feelers, or “tentacles”.
lve rse they are so unlike ou How big can a jellyfish get? The biggest of all. JELLYFISH PLAGUES In the past few years. They don’t feed on humans. with tentacles sometimes growing to an incredible 36 m (120 ft). huge swarms of giant Nomura’s jellyfish have been causing problems for Japanese fishing boats. surrounding the mouth. AND STRINGY smaller jellyfish. the Nomura’s jellyfish of Japan and the lion’s mane jellyfish found in northern oceans. and tentacles and flappy arm-like parts dangle down from the underside. A diver attaches a sensor to a Nomura's jellyfish in Japan. but giant jellyfish are not usually as deadly as some FRILLY. They have jelly-like. Many people find jellyfish strange and disgusting to look at. dome-shaped bodies.24 DISGUSTING NATURE GIANT JELLYFISH YUCK FACTOR! us to Giant jellyfish do look hideo se cau be us – but probably only s. covering the fish with slime and jellyfish poison so that they can’t be eaten. . which is in the middle. Many jellyfish can give you a dangerous sting with their tentacles. They get caught in fishing nets. can grow 2 m (6–7 ft) across. and people don’t usually get caught in them. That’s wider than a man is tall! The lion’s mane jellyfish can also be very long. SLIMY.
They range from about 2 cm (1 in) to about 50 cm (20 in) across. YUCK FACTOR! the An inside-out stomach on ht! ug prowl is a horrible tho . or grow. such as clams and mussels. a new arm if one is chopped off. and wraps the stomach around its prey.DISGUSTING NATURE 25 STARFISH What happens when a starfish wants to eat a tasty fish or sea slug. Some types of starfish can use powerful suckers on their arms to prise open shellfish. The stomach sucks up the dissolved prey and passes the creature to a smaller stomach inside its body. The stomach then releases digestive juices that dissolve the victim alive. each piece can regenerate. So you won’t have your hand liquefied while going for a swim! The starfish’s hunting method is bad news for a lot of sea creatures. making its stomach poke right out of its body through its mouth. SHOULD I BE SCARED? and they can only wrap their stretchy stomachs around things that move slowly. But the good news for us is that they don’t gobble up humans. making two new starfish. It’s even true that if a single starfish is cut into two pieces. Most starfish are small. but it’s too big? Simple! The starfish simply turns its stomach inside out. and it’s certainly disgusting. Then they insert their stomachs right into the gap and start digesting and liquefying the creature hiding inside! This starfish is using its curling arms to ensnare its prey – Antarctic krill. STOMACH INVASION Even having a strong shell doesn’t protect other sea creatures from a marauding starfish stomach. NEW ARMS Starfish really can regenerate.
such as a dead or dying goat. IN SEARCH OF DEAD MEAT Komodo dragons are mainly scavengers and eat dead flesh. Like snakes. it has terribly stinky breath GERMS AND POISON DID YOU KNOW? Komodo dragons have been known to dig up human graves to eat the bodies inside. and are among the world’s wo . Komodos can also kill living creatures – either by infecting them with disgusting disease germs from their mouths or by injecting them with venom. Local people pile stones on top of graves to stop this from happening. It looks a bit like a short-legged. and bones. too. they guzzle it in chunks or even swallow it whole. the Komodo dragon vomits up a “gastric pellet” – a lump of indigestible bits of fur. small-headed dinosaur. PUTRID PELLETS After eating an animal. heavy tail and a forked tongue. with a long. but they do hunt and kill as well. teeth.26 DISGUSTING NATURE KOMODO DRAGON The Komodo dragon isn’t a real dragon. When they find their prey. YUCK FACTOR! ers This creature’s table mann rst. growing up to 3 m (10 ft) long. It’s far more disgusting than that! This is the world’s biggest lizard. . they stick out their tongues to detect scents in the air and can sniff out a rotting carcass from more than 8 km (5 miles) away. where tourists often go to watch them. Urgh! Komodo dragons like this one live only on a few islands in Indonesia.
and the blood spurts out. weak blood vessels right next to the lizard’s eyes burst open.) monster! (But only in minia . BLOOD SQUIRTER The horned lizard can shoot its own blood a distance of up to 1 m (3 ft) away to frighten an attacker. spines. speckled skin make them look like miniature dragons or dinosaurs. has a really revolting trick for scaring off predators that want to eat it. so that the AN AMAZING DISCOVERY Spanish explorer Francisco Hernandez first described the horned lizard in 1651: “If its head or eyes are pressed”. UGH! WHAT WAS THAT? The jet of blood might confuse a predator.5 cm (2½– 6½ in) in length – but their horns. The blood also tastes awful to some animals. It squirts them with a well-aimed jet of blood from its eyes! HORNED AND DANGEROUS These lizards are small. Their spikes alone can put off some predators – they can puff up their bodies to make themselves bigger and spikier. They also have a secret weapon. he wrote. frills. How? The blood flow from its head to its body is cut off. When the pressure is strong enough. “or if it is struck carelessly. it vigorously shoots drops of blood … up to a distance of three paces”. such as a coyote. and spotted. horny ture.… blood collects and pressure builds up. YUCK FACTOR! -headed It’s a blood-squirting. Splat! Blood squirts from a horned lizard’s eye.DISGUSTING NATURE 27 HORNED LIZARD This bizarre desert lizard. when it lands in its eyes or face. found in North America.4–16. reaching only around 6.
poisonous skin. It can be fatal. and farm animals. . Cane toads’ eggs and tadpoles are deadly poisonous. cane toads have become a nightmare in several places. it would be horre n. In Australia. milky white substance. you can catch warts yourself by touching a toad.28 DiSGUSTiNG NATURE CANE TOAd YUcK FAcTOR! r If you had a cane toad in you sly ou nd mouth. They are glands. these glands release a A cane toad can grow to almost 30 cm (12 in) long. all toads are quite disgusting. and deadly poisonous. They release poisons that help protect toads from predators. pets. This one is enjoying a frog as a snack. WARTY! poisonous. they were introduced to help farmers by eating beetles that fed on farm crops. a kind of small body organ. rinse your pet’s mouth out with water and take it to a vet as soon as you can. ugly. But unfortunately. In some animals. the poison causes drooling and stops the heart from working. KILLER TOADS TOP TIP! If your dog or cat bites a cane toad. An old wives’ tale says that because toads are covered in warts. revolting – but for a huma . including humans. they also poison wildlife. Huge. one behind each eye. But that's nonsense! The bumps on toads’ backs aren’t real warts at all. If the toad is attacked. too. Cane toads have two extra-large glands. But the cane toad is probably the yuckiest of all. dId YOU KNOW? Some dogs and other animals like licking cane toads because the poison makes them feel pleasantly dizzy! This is dangerous and unhealthy. en that’s unlikely to happ With their bulging eyes and bumpy.
By now each baby is around 2 cm (1 in) long. making a honeycomb pattern. and the pockets get bigger and push together. the male toad collects them and presses them onto her back where they stick to her skin. too – almost completely flat. LAYING EGGS The female toad lays around 100 eggs. despite its name. The mother’s back swells as A mother Surinam toad with her back covered in pockets containing baby frogs growing under her skin. Over the next few hours. this happens. As she lays them. LEAF FROG The Surinam toad has a strange body shape. like a leaf. BABIES In the little pockets under the female’s skin. They can usually burst out by themselves.DISGUSTING NATURE 29 SURINAM TOAD The Surinam toad. the eggs sink into the female’s back. the baby frogs shoot out of their chambers and swim free. is actually a frog found in rivers and ponds in South America. After several months. It has one of the most amazing ways of giving birth – it’s so strange. Pop! YUCK FACTOR! t from When the froglets burst ou y the under their mother’s skin. ry! look disgusting and sca . but if they aren’t strong enough. and skin grows right over them. the mother can use her back muscles to push them out. the eggs hatch and grow. it seems like something from a sci-fi film.
such as a whale. dies and sinks to the seabed. too! Large fish often swim around with a few hagfish burrowing into and nibbling away at their bodies. snakeshaped fish is probably the slimiest thing in the world. they start burrowing into it. This brave person dipped their hand in hagfish slime to show just how slimy.30 DISGUSTING NATURE HAGFISH This extremely weird. munching as they go. If it is touched or threatened. sticky. It can use the same trick to clear old slime off itself. surrounded by sensitive parts called barbels. When a sea creature. It can slide the knot up and down its body. It does this to pull itself out of a dead animal or out of a predator’s grip. But they sometimes do this to living sea creatures. It completely covers the hagfish. its skin releases a sticky substance that combines with seawater to make masses of slippery slime. too. YUCK FACTOR! often Scientists and fishermen st mo the sh gfi call the ha sea. and disgusting it is! FLESH EATERS Hagfish are scavengers. the in re atu disgusting cre ! ing olt rev ly It’s tru . which the hagfish uses to feel its way around. making it very hard for predators to hold on to. Ugh! A hagfish’s face has sharp teeth for biting into flesh. TIED UP IN KNOTS Another strange thing the hagfish can do is tie itself into a knot.
or stop themselves from sinking by making sure they keep moving all the time. But the blobfish works in a different way. the blobfish lays its eggs in a nest on the seabed and sits on them until they hatch.DISGUSTING NATURE 31 Blobfishes are occasionally dragged up from the deep oceans by trawling nets. At these depths. It just looks odd and ugly. . big-nosed cartoon creature! CHICKEN FISH Like a chicken. Other fish float using a pocket of gas in their bodies called a swim bladder. suspended in the water. Its blobby jelly body allows it to drift slowly along just above the seabed. DEEP-SEA DWELLER The blobfish lives in water as much as 800 m (2. there is a huge amount of water pressure pushing on the fish from all sides.625 ft) deep – which explains why it is rarely seen. YUCK FACTOR! fatIt’s a bit cruel to call this . wobbly. headed fish really revolting It’s just funny-looking! JELLY BELLY This freaky fish really does deserve the name “blob”. BLOBFISH This crazy-looking deep-sea fish doesn’t actually do anything disgusting. jelly-like substance. Most of its body is made up of a strange. It doesn’t move fast or go hunting for food – it just eats scraps of food that float by. and it has hardly any muscles. and why people know so little about it. like a blobby.
These white-backed vultures are competing with a jackal for a dead zebra. and many other animals. They can spot these from high in the sky and can also smell rotting flesh. Is it true? Vultures do circle. als im an ad and germy de In cartoons. very ill. So. you can see vultures flocking to battlefields to feast on dead bodies. They stuff themselves so full. vultures circle in the sky above people who are lost in the desert. DID YOU KNOW? In some old artwork.32 DISGUSTING NATURE VULTURE YUCK FACTOR! Eating rotten meat seems ually disgusting. which are poisonous to them. waiting for them to die so that they can swoop down and start eating them. though – their super-strong stomachs are not affected by the germs. There are many different types of vulture. IÕ M STUFFED! Vultures often live in desert areas. However. but vultures act elly sm ay aw ng help us by cleari . and they can go for days. . They are scavengers that feed on carrion – old. they do sometimes die when they eat farm animals that have been given medicines. when they do find a tasty rotting carcass. rotting dead bodies. they eat as much as they possibly can. WHY ARENÕ T THEY ILL? Rotting meat contains revolting bacteria that can make humans. or even weeks without food. they can’t fly or even move! They have to sit on the ground until their dinner is digested. but mainly just to look for food. Vultures don’t care.
DEADLY FEATHER-FOULER The vomit is actually mostly made up of a kind of thick. As well as smelling foul. most slime makes it one of the net. for a hunting bird. Ahhh. orangeyyellow. making them so matted that they can’t fly. and the newly hatched chick is left alone in its nest while its parents go fishing for food. fluffy fulmar chick. gloopy oil that SHARPSHOOTER Baby fulmars can shoot their vomit very accurately into an intruder’s eyes. You reach the top and find yourself face-to-face with a white. TOP TIP! Wildlife experts and climbers who do get up close to fulmars have to keep their distance to avoid a fish-oil shower. Cute! But suddenly – SPLAT! The chick squirts slimy.FULMAR DISGUSTING NATURE FACTOR!33 YUCK You’re a fearless wildlife explorer. fishy-smelling vomit from its stomach right into your eyes and mouth. They can also fire it a distance of 2–3 m (6–10 ft). such as a skua or eagle. Caught on camera. a fulmar chick’s stream of vomit flies out of its throat through the air. oily. disgusting birds on the pla DISGUSTING DEFENCE Fulmars lay just one egg at a time. even deadly. This can be dangerous. Bleeuurrrgggh! stinky The fulmar chick’s squirty. The chicks use their vile vomit-squirting skills to defend themselves from attackers while their parents are away. the oil can clog other birds’ feathers. . collects in sea birds’ stomachs after they eat fish. scaling a windblown coastal crag to photograph wild sea birds in their cliff-top nests. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes.
At the last second. snakes. then fires its poo. Keep aw This fieldfare mother will protect her nest and eggs fiercely. Yuck! PROTECTION FOR EVERYONE Smaller birds have caught on to the fieldfare’s cunning tactics and often build their own nests near the fieldfare’s. it flies up high. They hang around birds’ nests hoping to help themselves to a snack. But if you get too close to its eggs. sticky fieldfare poo may clog up birds’ feathers and stop them from flying. It’s less effective on fourlegged hunters. such as crows. GET OFF MY EGGS! Birds’ eggs can provide a feast for predators. YUCK FACTOR! and Bird poo is horribly sticky sting gu dis slimy and can contain ay! germs. . and squirrels. Like the fulmar chick’s vomit (see page 33). so that it can aim its rear end at the predator. When the fieldfare sees this happening. This helps their eggs stay safe from egg-stealing predators. It keeps away predators who want to steal its eggs by deliberately shooting a stream of slimy bird poo all over them. then dive-bombs its enemy. the fieldfare can turn nasty. too. it swoops upwards. brown-speckled songbird that you might see in your garden. such as stoats. such as bigger birds. BIRD BOMBER The fieldfare’s poo-shooting defence works best on other birds.34 DISGUSTING NATURE FIELDFARE It’s an innocent-looking.
Check out these fangs! Once it’s close to you. so you don’t feel a thing. TOP TIP! If you are in Central or South America. using its folded-up wings as feet. and they do feed on fresh blood. So it waits a while. Their disgusting diet comes mainly from animals. such as cows and goats. too ry. keep doors and windows closed at night. a vampire bat will land some distance away. is also happy to suck human blood. But one species. digests its dinner. the bat quickly laps it up. as your blood flows out. This is a disgusting (and deadly) disease that makes you foam at the mouth (produce lots of spit bubbles). then makes itself lighter by having a big wee before taking flight. YUCK FACTOR! tty Bloodsucking bats are pre . Yikes! REVOLTING RABIES RAZOR-SHARP TEETH! Being bitten by a vampire bat won’t harm you much – unless the bat is carrying rabies. A vampire bat licks up a flow of blood from its victim – in this case a chicken. Slurp! DID YOU KNOW? Feeding fills a vampire bat with so much blood that itÕ s too heavy to fly. CREEPING AND CRAWLING To avoid waking you up and having its meal ruined. then creep silently towards you. the common vampire bat. or sleep under a mosquito net. Then. It has special saliva (spit) that numbs pain. the bat uses its sharp fangs to cut open your skin.VAMPIRE BAT Scary bats that fly by night and creep into your bed to suck your blood exist only in horror stories – right? WRONG! Vampire bats are real. beware of the risk of vampire bats. To protect yourself. sca revolting – and .
itÕ s pretty much impossible to wash the smell out. Strong muscles around the glands squeeze together to shoot the liquid up to 5 m (16 ft) away. And it certainly works. As a defence. burning plastic.36 DISGUSTING NATURE SKUNK YUCK FACTOR! st This really is one of the mo t. the skunk usually avoids getting any of the smelly gloop on its own fur. Cunningly. A skunk makes a special stinky. and sewage (that’s old. garlic. A skunk may stamp its feet or stick its tail in the air to warn you that it’s about to spray. DID YOU KNOW? If clothes or other objects are sprayed by a skunk. oily liquid in its anal glands – two small organs on its rear end. Let’s hope you never have to smell it for yourself! STINK SHOOTER A skunk can even get you from a distance. it will cover anything that threatens it in this revolting gunk. rotting waste from toilets – see page 105)! As well as smelling really bad. Skunk spray can even put off animals that are much larger than the skunk itself. it can make your eyes water and make you choke or vomit. . ne pla the on ells revolting sm Anyone who’s unlucky enough to have been sprayed by a skunk can tell you that it’s one of the most disgusting smells in the entire animal kingdom. WHAT DOES IT SMELL LIKE? The smell of skunk spray resembles a mixture of rotting eggs.
sticky fluid. hippos also urinate backwards. which ferments in their stomachs and gives off smelly gases. It may be to mark their territory (the area of land they control) or to warn other hippos that they are angry and may attack. Like cows.DISGUSTING NATURE 37 HIPPOPOTAMUS Maybe you think of a hippo as an innocent. it’s hard to know where to begin! SWEATING BLOOD! When the ancient Greeks first saw hippos. . pee-squirting one’s gas-belching hippos are no ny. HIPPO HALITOSIS First of all. Hippos have so many disgusting habits. but not all that disgusting. to avoid a smelly shower. they thought they sweated blood because their skin leaks droplets of red. you’re wrong. hippos are famous for their terrible breath. spreading it far and wide! Experts aren’t sure why they do this. YUCK FACTOR! Stand back! This hippo is making sure you know he’s the boss with a flying poo warning. This isn’t actually blood. and Poo-spraying. Male hippos flick their tails around and around as fast as they can when they poo. they munch huge amounts of grass. Well. either. but a chemical that kills germs on the hippo’s skin and also protects it from the sun. The result – bad breath and disgustingly stinky burps! As well as spraying their droppings. Many male hippos also have damaged and rotting teeth from fighting one another. So. Not pretty. never stand behind a hippo! TOP TIP! POO FLINGER It gets worse. pa com lite po idea of . lumbering beast.
FOAMING AT THE MOUTH First. DID YOU KNOW? Opossums can eat several species of poisonous snakes. tongue dangling out. . greenish slime from its anal glands (two small organs on its rear end). with its Don’t eat me! I’m really not very well. For an even better way to repel hunting animals.. all that changes! It deliberately makes itself as disgusting as possible. and does a poo (as this often happens when animals die).. The poison does not affect them. AND NOT EVEN FRESH! PLAYING DEAD . When they smell this. This makes some predators back away. It lies still. most predators decide that they’re not that hungry after all. too. so that the opossum seems as if it’s been dead for several days. But when the common opossum is in danger of being attacked or eaten. the opossum releases a horrible-smelling. Opossums are smallish. fluffy mammals found in America. to put potential predators off trying a tasty mouthful. then blows a mass of bubbling foam from its mouth and nose to make attackers think it is ill or dying. I’m starting to rot! Last of all.38 DISGUSTING NATURE OPOSSUM YUCK FACTOR! plays Opossums’ disgusting dis d they an are revolting.. the opossum “plays dead”. but rare – e siv serve a very useful defen purpose.. They look quite normal – even cute. This smells like rotting meat. In fact. It collects a mouthful of saliva (spit). Yuck! . the opossum can use its disgusting drool trick to make attackers think it has a horrible disease.
instead of hunting.DISGUSTING NATURE 39 JACKAL Imagine if. pigeons. away from danger. the vomited-up mush is fishy! Yum! A mother jackal in Kenya gets ready to chew up a rat that she will regurgitate later for her pups. The pups catch the food from their parents’ throats as they vomit it up. gro d an d foo t some babies to ge FEEDING TIME Then the jackal parents return to their pups with the food in their stomachs. . This method allows the pups to stay safely in the den. and penguins. up – just as humans mash up food for their babies. while they hunt for rats. but jackal vomit makes a great baby food. Sometimes. they scavenge by nibbling meat off the carcasses of animals killed by other hunters. too. such as lions. It seems REVOLTING to us – but for jackals. usually a burrow or hollow in the ground. when you were hungry and ready for lunch. including vultures. It sounds disgusting. The meat is soft and mashed MORE REVOLTING REGURGITATORS Some birds regurgitate food for their babies. it makes a lot of sense. and other prey. For penguins. YUCK FACTOR! but We find vomit disgusting. WHAT HAPPENS? Jackals leave their puppies in a den. y for wa st be the is regurgitating food w. birds. your mum vomited up some old meat that she’d chewed and swallowed earlier onto your plate – or even right into your mouth! That’s how jackals (and several other species) feed their young.
and the bud is as big as a football. Its stinky. flowers fill your garden with delicious scents.40 DISGUSTING NATURE DID YOU KNOW? Local people where the rafflesia lives call it the Ò corpse flowerÓ or Ò meat flowerÓ . which allows the plant to make seeds. it smells like rotting meat! MMM. a kind of vine. This means spreading pollen from one flower to another. The five spotty petals and strange central hole of a rafflesia flower blooming in the rainforest. bright. SMELL THIS! Just like other flowers. YUCK FACTOR! The revolting rafflesia looks rse! hideous and smells even wo . deadmeat whiff attracts flies that like rotten meat. and delicate. The flower can measure more than 1 m (40 in) across. It lives in the steamy rainforests of Southeast Asia. And on top of that. and survives by invading and feeding on another plant. as well as being the biggest single bloom on Earth. Except this one! The rafflesia has to be one of the ugliest flowers in the world. RAFFLESIA Pretty. the rafflesia smells as it does for a good reason – to attract insects to pollinate it. Its enormous buds and flowers are the only part of the plant you can see. FOREST GIANT This isn’t a flower that’s going to pop up in your garden overnight. and they end up spreading the pollen around.
and you could go to see (and smell!) it for yourself. When a titan arum is about to bloom. to make the smell stronger and yuckier! Tourists gather around a blooming titan arum at Bonn University in Germany. which are like zoos for plants. the titan arum uses its smell to attract flies to pollinate it. since they flower very rarely. too. But it’s actually made up of lots of tiny flowers. As well as the rafflesia. it looks like a huge cartoon flower. which looks completely different from the rafflesia. It smells as foul as the raf but looks a bit nicer! The forests of Southeast Asia are home to more than one type of stinky flower. it usually hits the headlines. at up to 3 m (10 ft) tall. WHOÕ S THE BIGGEST? The titan arum is even bigger than the rafflesia. . But it reeks! TOP TIP! Although the titan arum naturally lives in rainforests. With a tall central spike surrounded by a trumpet-like shape. it is often grown in botanical gardens.TITAN ARUM DISGUSTING NATURE 41 YUCK FACTOR! flesia. the spike-shaped part gets warm. there’s the titan arum. so it doesn’t count as the biggest flower in the world. So look out for news about a titan arum near you. WARMING UP As the titan arum flower blooms. It gives off the smell of rotting flesh and is a dark red colour inside so that it looks like meat. FLY HEAVEN Like the rafflesia. or “corpse lily”.
Inside. are small and only eat tiny . But don’t keep poking it to make the traps shut! It’s not good for it. HAIR TRIGGER The Venus flytrap’s “traps” are formed from its leaves. so they need something extra – in the form of fly-flavoured snacks! IÕ M SO HUNGRY! YUCK FACTOR! You can buy a Venus flytrap as a house plant. It seals up and forms a kind of “stomach”. Snap! Munch! This Venus flytrap has snapped shut on an unsuspecting fly. TOP TIP! g plants The thought of meat-eatin s flytraps is a bit alarming. the leaves are covered in tiny hairs. Each trap has two halves. They can’t get all the nutrients (food chemicals) they need from the soil around them. they actually grab them and trap them in their spiky-edged “jaws”. like open jaws. When an insect or other small animal brushes against the hairs. and they not only eat insects and other animals. releasing digestive juices that break the prey down into liquid plant food. But Venus flytraps are real. Most plants don’t eat meat. the trap shuts tight. so why do flytraps? They live in North America.42 DISGUSTING NATURE VENUS FLYTRAP Plants that eat meat sound like something straight out of a sci-fi film. in marshy areas where there’s plenty of water but very poor soil. but Venu animals.
large spiders. along with grooves or downward-pointing hairs inside the pitcher. The “pitcher” parts of the plant have very slippery edges. it slips inside. When an animal steps onto them. The slime around the rim. It catches its prey using a brilliant booby trap – a deep “pitcher”. Instead.DISGUSTING NATURE 43 PITCHER PLANT There are several types of meat-eating plants. and can trap and kill animals. make it almost impossible for trapped animals to climb back out. into a deep vat of deadly liquefying chemicals. it attracts passing insects and other animals with sweet-smelling nectar and bright colours. it will fall inside the deadly pitcher. COULD YOU FALL IN? There are horror films that show giant pitcher plants. big enough to eat a human Ð but as far as we know. or jug-shaped container. YUCK FACTOR! A plant that can gobble up a rat is pretty gross! SLIPPERY RIM Unlike the Venus flytrap. there are no real pitcher plants that big! . the pitcher plant doesn’t have moving parts that can grab prey. filled with digestive juices that dissolve any animal that falls inside. such as frogs. Watch out! If this fly takes one more step. but the pitcher plant is the hungriest of all. MEAT-EATING MONSTERS Some pitcher plants grow big enough to hold more than 3 litres (5 pt) of liquid. and even mice and rats.
shake it gently – but keep it away from your face. This plump squirting cucumber fruit will soon splat its seeds and pulp everywhere.44 DISGUSTING NATURE SQUIRTING CUCUMBER Be careful when you’re close to one of these disgusting plants. pressure builds up inside. jelly-like gunk and seeds. until finally – POP! – it suddenly breaks off from its stalk. especially if you eat a lot of it. and its slimy insides explode outwards. The plant isn’t trying to zap you – it does this in order to disperse. SEED SPREADER HIGH SPEED SHOOTING When it first fires from the plant. As its fruit grows bigger and riper. sloppy. Even from some distance away. Splat! DID YOU KNOW? Although itÕ s related to the cucumbers we eat. the cucumber’s gloopy gunk can move at an incredible 95 km/h (60 mph) and can fly up to 7 m (23 ft) away. its seeds as far away as possible to give them a chance to grow. YUCK FACTOR! Being covered with surprise cucumber slime isn’t nice. So if any ends up in your mouth. it could squirt you with a jet of slimy. . the squirting cucumber is poisonous. or spread. The squirting cucumber is a vine-like plant with hairy. oval-shaped fruits. green. spit it out! TOP TIP! If you want to set off a ripe squirting cucumber plant.
A stinking toe tree: the place to go for a smelly but satisfying snack.DISGUSTING NATURE 45 STINKING TOE TREE Can a tree have toes? Well. unwashed socks. stubby toes – they also smell just like toes! In fact. where the tree grows. brownish seed pods roughly the size of large potatoes. is used as an incense (burned to release scent) and as a sealant for tooth fillings. . the inside of the toe fruits is a local delicacy in the Caribbean. The stinking toe tree’s us. the stinking toe tree (also called the West Indian locust) does! Not only does it have parts that look just like a giant’s fat. the smell goes everywhere! STINKING TOE SNACK Amazingly. and the rsel. When you crack a seed pod open. so sometimes they look like a bunch of toes on a foot. mo ty tas a es stinking toe becom TOE PODS The toe tree’s “toes” are actually its fruits. surrounded by a powdery substance that stinks of cheesy feet. despite smelling so bad. reeking. they smell like the stinkiest feet you’ve ever smelt or a pile of old. YUCK FACTOR! yucky Just hold your nose. pods contain a delicio powdery pulp. It’s said to taste sweet and delicious – but it does give you bad breath! USEFUL TOE TREE Hardened sap from the stinking toe tree. known as copal. Inside each pod is a seed. They are big. They grow in clusters.
wet. There are chemicals that can kill the algae. disgusting pond slime. WHAT IS SLIME? The slime in ponds (and other still water. Keep that away from me! Green. Some water algae float around on their own. Green. but it’s often easiest to just fish for the slime with a rake and pull it out. or mat shapes. And it’s especially bad if your friends drag a long. gloopy curtain of slime out of the pond on a stick and flick it at you. making what looks like long strand. and that’s what makes pond slime so gloopy and revolting. blocks out light so other plants can’t grow. you rt hu to itself and can’t TOP TIP! Gardeners hate algal slime ruining their ponds. or colonies. but it kee . They can soon completely take over a pond. stringy slime clogs up ponds.46 DISGUSTING NATURE POND SLIME A pond is an attractive feature of a garden or park – UNLESS it’s filled with yucky. But many species club together in huge groups. blanket. IN THE CLUB SLIME INVASION! Living together in groups seems to help algae grow and multiply faster. called algae. single-celled living things. soaking wet pond slime looks and feels disgusting. The individual cells are held together by sticky slime. gloopy. such as swamps and canals) looks like a large plant. Urgh! YUCK FACTOR! ps Pond slime is vile. . and looks revolting. but it’s actually made up of millions and millions of tiny.
Slime blobs in nature inspired the Blob films. They work together to make the whole mass of jelly crawl forwards. A MASS OF CELLS A slime mould is not an animal or plant – it’s actually made up of single-celled creatures called amoebae. In the past. stringy bag of jelly. the cells can act like one single living creature. a weird.SLIME MOULD Overnight. each amoeba lives on its own. they join together to make a massive super-cell that looks like a slimy. so that it can move around on plant matter to feed. these are creatures called slime moulds. It looks like something from a sci-fi film. it makes two. jelly-like blob appears on your lawn. people thought these bizarre blobs really did come from space – they are sometimes called “star jelly” – and they have even been used as evidence for UFO landings. but a species called red raspberry slime mould. Two can also join together to make one bigger one. But at one stage. . If you don’t want a slime mould around. you can simply wash it away with a garden hose. SUPER SLIME If you cut a slime mould in half. when they are joined together. The truth is a bit less exciting (though still disgusting). which feature an alien slimeball. Not a jelly from space. For part of their lives. In fact. TOP TIP! YUCK FACTOR! of its A blob of jelly with a mind e! slim ate own – the ultim ONE MIND Even weirder.
It’s poisonous. and ugly. sticks to their feet and bodies. the black slime. this disgusting red fungus smells like rotting meat in order to attract flies. they spread the spores and new fungi grow. thi shroom. but you probably don’t expect it to look like this! This freaky fungus. TOP TIP! Don’t touch or eat this yucky fungus. and some dogs have died after eating it. but its spores sometimes escape Ð often in potted plants Ð so it can pop up anywhere in the world. has the scientific name Aseroë rubra – which literally means “disgusting red”. When they land on the fungus. which contains tiny spores (the fungus version of seeds). slimy. with its alien-looking red tentacles smeared with revoltingsmelling brown slime. A STARFISH Ð OR A GORY WOUND? This fungus is sometimes called the starfish or sea anemone fungus because of its star-like shape and bright colour. as the flies move around. Some experts think it looks the way it does to make flies think it’s a rotting wound in the side of an animal’s body – since that’s where some flies like to lay their eggs. HITCHING A RIDE This disgusting red fungus is found in Australia and the Pacific Islands. too. So. YUCK FACTOR! s has to Stinky. and keep pets away from it.48 DISGUSTING NATURE DISGUSTING RED FUNGUS You might see a mushroom growing in your garden from time to time. mu st be the world’s yuckie SLIMY SPORES Like some stinky species of plants. A disgusting red fungus can have up to 16 slimy tentacles. .
pooey smell of stinkhorn! YUCK FACTOR! A disgusting fungus. from aching joints to cancer! Flies love the rotting. greenish cap on top. WITCHESÕ EGG STINKY. it’s inside an egg-like ball from which it then bursts out. dripping with stinky. Though not real eggs. and some people eat the “eggs”. spore-filled slime. perhaps because they appeared mysteriously from the ground. It has a long. usually in forests or gardens.DISGUSTING NATURE 49 STINKHORN The name “stinkhorn” tells you a little bit about this disgusting mushroom. SPOTTING A STINKHORN Stinkhorns grow in Europe and North America. helping to spread its spores. it reeks of rotten flesh – or sometimes smelly animal poo – to attract flies to land on it. Like the disgusting red fungus. these used to be called “witches’ eggs”. but it its uses and admirers. sickly-sweet smell that can make you feel ill. white stalk with an oval. BUT EDIBLE The stinkhorn isn’t poisonous. has . Then look out for its tall white stalk and flies buzzing around its tip. The fungus has been used as a folk remedy to treat many illnesses. You may smell one before you see it – it’s a revolting. You might also see a stinkhorn “egg”! When the fungus first appears from underground.
you’re probably feeling itchy just thinking about it. laying eggs that hatch into new lice. or even walk very well – their curled feet are designed for holding onto hairs. When they bite. Head lice spend their whole lives on human heads – very often children’s heads. As soon as the larva (baby) hatches. the head louse is probably one you’ve been closest to. They feed by biting your scalp and sucking your blood – which makes you incredibly itchy. Nits are head lice eggs. So they’re happy to stay on your head. jump. The female lays each egg close to a hair root. They only spread to another person if your heads brush together. and they can wriggle onto the other person’s hair. lice inject a chemical into your blood to stop it from clotting and scabbing over. DID YOU KNOW? Scientists have found that head lice prefer to live in girlsÕ hair! NITS! STUCK ON YOU Head lice can’t fly. using a special glue to stick it to the hair. . but many ved! rvi su have had head lice – and TOP TIP! It’s easy to get rid of head lice by combing them out carefully and washing your hair with special head lice shampoo. Then they slurp it up! YUCK FACTOR! of us They’re not nice.… Head louse eggs.50 DISGUSTING NATURE HEAD LOUSE Ugh! Out of all the disgusting creatures in this book. In fact. it starts biting you and sucking your blood. or nits. glued to human hair.
rooted in the hair follicle (the hole that the eyelash grows from). such as eyebrow hairs. WHAT ARE THEY? Mites are related to spiders. the oily stuff that makes your hair greasy. They spread from one person to another when peopleÕ s faces touch. Many children.DISGUSTING NATURE 51 EYELASH MITE Imagine a tiny. They can also be found on other hairs on the face. They live s. wriggly creepy-crawly living in the roots of your eyelashes.5 mm (1/50 of an inch) long. although eyelash mites actually if you Eyelash mites are revolting have a worm-like shape. . it may be gross. How gross is that?! Well. with eight but – ch mu too m think about the tiny legs at one end. les rm ha tty they’re pre around the base of the eyelashes. But you might spot some if you collect one of your own eyelashes after it falls out and look at it under a microscope. and more than half of all adults. the more likely you are to have eyelash mites. You won’t be able to see them by looking in a mirror. So don’t worry about them! This is an eyelash mite. YUCK FACTOR! WHY CANÕ T I SEE THEM? These mites are tiny – less than 0. they just come back. They eat dead skin and sebum. have eyelash mites. It’s very difficult to get rid of eyelash mites. magnified. but you probably have quite a few wriggling around among your eyelashes right now. The mite’s rear end anchors itself in the hair follicle. and even if you do. But they can come out and creep around. especially at night. TOP TIP! YOUÕ LL GET THEM The older you get.
pull it gently using tweezers or a special tick remover to hold its head. or even days as it drinks its fill. and lots of other creepy-crawlies. A tick! Like mosquitoes. FILLING STATION Next. and most of its head. TICK You’re walking in a forest when you notice something small and round stuck to your leg. which causes terrible tiredness and headaches. . including Lyme disease. hours. It can hang on for minutes. DON’T squeeze its body or burn it – these things can make matters worse. What’s especially disgusting is the way they attach themselves to your skin and hang on while their bodies slowly fill with blood. YUCK FACTOR! There’s something deeply a tick disgusting about the way ds.52 DISGUSTING NATURE TOP TIP! To get a tick off you. This tick is growing fat and swollen as it fills with human blood. They also feed on other animals. Some ticks can detect the warmth of your body or the gases in your breath. and brush onto your body as you go past. into your flesh. DID YOU KNOW? Ticks can give you several diseases. fee it as up fills clings on and HOW A TICK FINDS YOU Ticks don’t live on their hosts all the time – they live in long grass or on trees. then creep and crawl onto you. the tick finds some bare skin and burrows its sharp mouthparts. lice. ticks like to bite you and suck your blood. such as dogs and deer.
beds. since their bites make you ITCH badly. Their eggs collect in dusty corners and bedding. it injects its saliva into you. you’re quite likely to see a flea as it leaps from one person to another. deadly epidemics in the past. FLEA A flea uses its massive back legs to jump up to 200 times its body length. as you have to de-flea your whole house. Only as adults do they hop onto you for a blood meal. with the superhuman jumping strength of its powerful back legs.THE PLAGUE Fleas hitching a ride on rats were responsible for spreading a deadly disease called bubonic plague. and in dog and cat beds. sore spot. and furniture. it killed more than 200 million people in huge. A flea shown highly magnified. EGGS EVERYWHERE Fleas hop around on people and animals. This makes fleas horribly hard to get rid of. . YUCK FACTOR! Fleas can cause serious problems. BOINGGG! Unlike some parasites (creatures that live in or on bigger creatures). Though it can be treated now. more annoying than disgu ITCHY SPOTS When a flea bites. and this causes horrible itching and a red. These wingless insects are among the most irritating of parasites. the larvae eat dead skin and crumbs. and when they hatch. but they’re mainly sting. or from your pet onto you. It can give some people an allergic rash as well. but they also make their homes in your carpets.
giving you nasty germs. burn it. to suck some out. or stab it! This could make it vomit its stomach contents into your bloodstream. which can be more than 30 cm (12 in) long. wriggly creature clamps itself onto you – and starts sucking your blood. to break the sucker seal. . you won’t r it. boneless animal related to worms. ove sh bru you il leech unt BLOODSUCKERS Leeches have a sucker that clamps fast to your skin. though for different reasons (see page 111). such as the giant Amazonian leech. TOP TIP! The best way to remove a leech is to slide a fingernail under its side gently. However. Leeches range from creatures of just 1 cm (½ in) long to monsters. DON’T squeeze the leech.54 DISGUSTING NATURE LEECH You’re paddling in a stream when – ugh! – a slimy. e an Because leeches releas y attach anaesthetic when the feel the biting themselves. such as water worms. then drop off. So they stuck leeches onto themselves on purpose. only a few feed on human blood. Then they use either a needle-like mouth or a set of sharp teeth to cut your skin. Of more than 600 species. It’s a leech. BLOODLETTING In medieval times. The rest eat other creatures. people thought illnesses could be caused by having too much blood. Some doctors still use leeches today. YUCK FACTOR! onto A slimy beast that latches is no you and sucks your blood one’s favourite pet. They suck your blood until they’re full (this can take 20 minutes!). a kind of legless. not all leeches are out to get you.
Then it uses its mouth like a straw to suck up the blood. This sticks into your skin and injects chemicals that stop blood from clotting. mosquitoes actually don’t need to suck our blood very much at all. all other illnesses. you’ll see it has jabbed your skin with a very long. YUCK FACTOR! ngerous Mosquitoes can be very da ng. The larvae (young) feed on plankton. DID YOU KNOW? Diseases spread by mosquitoes are thought to have killed more people than any other cause of death. .DISGUSTING NATURE 55 MOSQUITO The mosquito is probably the most famous bloodsucking animal of all. including wars. The mosquito uses its needle-like proboscis to stab through your skin and suck up your blood. they spread seriously deadly diseases including malaria and yellow fever. These spindly flies cause horribly itchy spots when they bite you. In countries where malaria is common. needle-like mouthpart. As it does this. BLOODTHIRSTY BEASTS? Surprisingly. and the adults TOP TIP! You can save yourself from bites by sleeping under a mosquito net and using bug repellent on your skin. Even worse. you can take special anti-malarial tablets. gu but only moderately dis sti usually feed on nectar and fruit. you can see its transparent body bulging and turning red with its big blood meal. too. and all killer animals. Only the females suck blood – they do it to get the nutrients they need for laying eggs. called a proboscis. NEEDLE NOSE If you watch a mosquito up close while it’s snacking on you.
and turning. scratching. TOP TIP! You can catch bedbugs by shining a torch on your bed in the middle of the night. They are small and very flat. They hate light and disappear during the day. Some infestations may call for professional bug killers! mattress seams and tiny cracks. Aaaah … your lovely. and dinnerÓ ! . then drop down onto you when you’re asleep. FEEDING TIME! HIDING AWAY Bedbugs live in beds. but later you get a horribly itchy bump. THREE IN A ROW Bedbugs often leave three bites in a nice neat row Ð probably because they have to let go and reattach themselves when you move. Aarrggh! Luckily. and then sweeping them up before they have time to run. These three-bite patterns are sometimes called Ò breakfast. complete “debugging” involves thorough searching and cleaning. lunch. tossing. beak-like mouthparts that have two tubes in them – one for injecting painkilling chemicals. most homes these days don’t have them. biting bedbugs! These yucky little beasts like to bite you in the night while you’re asleep. though.56 DISGUSTING NATURE BEDBUG YUCK FACTOR! A bed crawling with bugs is a disgusting sight. You don’t feel it at first. the other for sucking blood. and can hide in Creepy bedbugs bite humans when they are at their most vulnerable: when they are asleep! Once it’s really dark and you’re lying nice and still. But not if it’s infested with creepy. They jab you with sharp. However. cosy bed is a place where you can relax and forget your worries. They have even been known to hide on the ceiling above a bed. but they can be hard to find. leaving you itching. the bedbugs start to nibble.
But they’ll still be in the mattress. DID YOU KNOW? A human sheds millions of dead skin cells every day Ð adding up to about 1 kg (2 lb) of skin every year.DISGUSTING NATURE 57 DUST MITE You may be able to avoid bedbugs – but you almost certainly do have dust mites in your home and in your bed. . as well as carpets and sofas. Each human sheds enough skin to keep several thousand mites well fed. which they shed like a snake does. which are often found in household dust. so it’s hard to get rid of them completely. It’s a creepy-crawlies we live wit to see! all good thing these are too sm You can kill dust mites and get rid of their poo by washing your bedclothes at 60°C (140°F). MUNCH. In fact. These substances can cause serious allergies in some people. are home to thousands of these tiny. MUNCH As dust mites munch their way through dust and skin bits. as well as their own skins. YUCK FACTOR! t how many It is revolting to think abou h. giving them asthma or a rash. eightlegged mite is less than 0. but so are dust mites. they leave droppings. Each blind. most beds. TOP TIP! MINI MITES The amount of skin that flakes off our bodies every day is tiny. spider-like creatures! They get their name because they feed on dead skin flakes. A microscopic view of a dust mite – a big fan of dead skin for dinner.5 mm (1/50 of an inch) long.
that has a tapeworm itself. such as a pig. TOP TIP! . it grows into an adult tapeworm inside you. dirty water from toilets can get into water that’s used for drinking or for washing food.58 DISGUSTING NATURE TAPEWORM Has anyone ever said “you must have a tapeworm!” because you’re very hungry and eat a lot? It’s usually meant as a joke. with little hooks on its head to fix itself firmly to the inside of your intestine. In countries with poor sewage systems. so tapeworms can spread easily. EGGS DID YOU KNOW? Some tapeworms can grow to a shocking 8 m (27 ft) long while living inside you. This tapeworm was living inside a pet cat! Yuck! To avoid tapeworms. You can also catch one from eating raw meat from an animal. ide ive is a really repuls SWALLOWING A CYST A tapeworm larva (or baby) is called a cyst. and they can make you feel hungry – by living in your intestines and eating your food. but tapeworms are real. always wash your hands before eating. How revolting! Tapeworms lay eggs that come out of your bottom when you use the toilet. They are sometimes found in dirty water or undercooked food. If you swallow one. and steer clear of undercooked meat and fish. it is tapeshaped. YUCK FACTOR! this big Being home to a parasite a. As its name suggests.
Problems only happen when the worms arenÕ t treated. or you could vomit up worms. But that doesn’t make them any less disgusting! CATCHING WORMS People catch worms by swallowing worm eggs found in dirty water. YUCK FACTOR! coming The possibility of a worm disgusting out of your eye gives this creepy-crawly top marks.DISGUSTING NATURE 59 ROUNDWORM Roundworms are the worms that cats. . very small worms. a worm could come out of your nose or eye. and humans have when we say they’ve “got worms”. or soil. TOP TIP! Always wash your hands well after using the toilet or changing a baby’s nappy to make sure worms can’t spread. snaky roundworms. Threadworms. or on their hands. dogs. so that you end up with a big mass of worms inside you – called a “heavy worm burden”. the eggs hatch into worms that live in your intestines. Some bigger roundworms. eventually die and come out in the toilet. can cause more trouble. the worms can move to other parts of your body. though. or multiply. Ugh! Even worse. food. WRIGGLY INVASION If you have a bad case of worms and don’t get it fixed. DONÕ T PANIC! Doctors can get rid of worms quickly with medicine. These worms are smaller than tapeworms – from less than 1 cm (½ in) to more than 25 cm (10 in) long. Inside you. Curly.
but the Guinea worm larvae grow into adult worms. she needs to emerge from your body to lay eggs. one of the grossest jobs on This Guinea worm is halfway out of its unlucky host. WHATÕ S IN THE WATER? Before infecting humans.60 DISGUSTING NATURE GUINEA WORM Imagine having to spend a month slowly pulling a 1-m (3-ft) worm out of your skin! That’s what happens if your body gets invaded by a Guinea worm. so she makes her way to your skin. Eventually. GET ME OUT OF HERE! To get rid of a Guinea worm. the copepods die in your stomach. When you drink the water. pulling a little more out each day. it’s horribly painful. you have to wind it very gently around a pencil or twig. where a nasty blister forms. too. This can take weeks. burning pain. You know you have a Guinea worm problem when you see one end of the worm sticking out! Yuck! YUCK FACTOR! r skin is Tugging a worm out of you Earth. Guinea worm larvae (young) live inside tiny water animals called copepods that live in dirty. stagnant (nonflowing) water. TOP TIP! Inside you. and causes an agonizing. a female worm can grow for as long as a year. And not only is it gross. .
Then the louse clings to the muscles at the base of the tongue. and becomes a new tongue for the fish! It feeds on the fish’s blood and body fluids. . a shopper in England bought a whole snapper fish to cook and eat. revolting – and it can’t harm COULD IT HAPPEN TO US? Don’t worry about a louse invasion when you’re in the ocean. which looks a bit like a woodlouse. YUCK FACTOR! It’s weird. and was amazed to find a fully grown. SUPERMARKET SURPRISE In 2005.DISGUSTING NATURE 61 TONGUE-EATING LOUSE What if a sneaky parasite ate your entire tongue and then lived in your mouth acting as a replacement? You would have a tonguesized bug living there forever! That’s what happens to snapper fish when the tongue-eating louse finds them. invades the fish by swimming in through its gills. Open wide! A look inside this fish’s mouth shows a sneaky tongue-eating louse. but not all that us. the spotted rose snapper. It attaches itself to the fish’s tongue and sucks blood from it until the tongue drops off. And it mainly invades one type of fish. The tongue-eating louse needs gills to swim in through – and humans don’t have gills. fat tongue-eating louse inside its mouth. MMM! TASTY TONGUE! The 4-cm (1½-in) louse.
we’ve come up with several revolting . but that’s far from the truth! Our bodies produce disgusting things – and to get rid of them.DISGUSTING We humans might like to think of ourselves as clean and sweet-smelling.
. animal poo.HUMANS inventions! Many of us also eat food that other people ﬁnd deeply vile. maggot-ﬁlled cheese. bird spit. including rotten ﬁsh. and crispy roasted tarantulas.
something even more disgusting happens. grew crust. tangy flavour that som YUCK FACTOR! find You might love cheese – or . we throw them away – yet we eat it in cheese! It adds a sharp. you might think “Yuck! No thanks!” Yet you have probably eaten all kinds of cheese without a thought. . MOULDY VEINS To make blue cheese. month-old milk that smelt. DID YOU KNOW? The holes in Swiss cheese are made by gas bubbles that are released by bacteria in the cheese. They often find the idea of cheese quite disgusting. it probably seems very normal and not disgusting at all. The strong smells and flavours of cheese come partly from bacteria that is added to help milk change into cheese. it really revolting IS CHEESE DISGUSTING? If you’re used to cheese. It has mould spores injected or stirred into it to make clumps and streaks (or “veins”) of mould grow. tangy taste and makes cheese smell like sweaty socks. e blue cheese a Mould is added to giv e people love. but in a carefully controlled way. and their bodies are not good at digesting milk and cheese. people aren’t used to eating dairy products. and was injected with greenish-blue mould.64 DISGUSTING HUMANS GERMS IN CHEESE If you were invited to eat a delicacy made of curdled. Bacterial gas is what makes Swiss cheese so holey. especially parts of Asia. But in some places. When we find mould on bread or bananas. especially mouldy blue cheese! Cheese is made of milk that has been allowed to go bad.
and crawling with live maggots! Gross! any Cheese really doesn’t get s. and they jump out of the cheese and die. which means it can’t be eaten. and very strong-tasting. runny. and the cheese is considered to have gone bad. The eggs hatch into maggots that feed on the cheese. it means they’re dead. They take normal cheese and let insects called cheese flies lay their eggs in it. It’s rotten. making it rotten.YUCK FACTOR! MAGGOT CHEESE Some cheeses are more disgusting than others. people shield their eyes with their hands to keep leaping maggots out. Lovely! Some people eat the wriggly maggots along with the cheese. but people still eat it. or casu marzu. check to see if the maggots are still wriggling and jumping. thi n tha ng sti gu more dis AGAINST THE LAW Maggot cheese is actually banned in the parts of Italy where it is popular. If they’re not. . So while eating. Casu marzu cheese writhing with live maggots. Others seal the cheese in a container first so that the maggots can’t breathe. is probably the most disgusting of all. stinking. and maggot cheese. from Italy. Imagine this on a cracker! WOULD YOU LIKE MAGGOTS WITH THAT? MIND YOUR EYES! The maggots can coil their bodies up and then spring up to 15 cm (6 in) into the air. TOP TIP! When eating maggot cheese.
The hunters catch the young gannets using loops on the ends of long poles. but special rules allow guga hunting once a year. where gannets nest. their meat tastes and smells very fishy. YUCK FACTOR! ny Though guga seems vile. and strong. a boat leaves the Isle of Lewis carrying guga hunters 65 km (40 miles) north to a rock in the sea named Sula Sgeir (meaning “gannet rock”). ma ne ryo eve h ug tho people love it – ells sm lly rea agrees that it . CATCH YOUR GANNET Though many people find its taste revolting and its smell even worse. some animal rights campaigners are trying to get guga hunting stopped. To cook guga. The greasy fat needs to be skimmed off each time. gross while it’s being cooked FIRST. salty. It is the meat of baby gannets. They have been hunting the gannets in this traditional way for hundreds of years. hunting for fish. off the coast of Scotland. making them easier for guga hunters to catch. TOP TIP! . Since gannets feed on fish. Sula Sgeir looms in the mist as an adult gannet soars in the wind. you have to first scrub off the grease and salt. then boil it several times. DID YOU KNOW? The gannet is a protected species. Every autumn. guga is a highly prized speciality since it is so rare and hard to catch.66 DISGUSTING HUMANS GUGA Guga is the name of a delicacy eaten on the Isle of Lewis. a type of sea bird. Young gannets cannot fly. However.
. To make it edible. traditionally by burying it under a pile of stones for several weeks. WHATÕ S IT LIKE? Even those who like hákarl have to wash it down with a strong-tasting drink to make it bearable! It is said to taste very sharp. the dead shark has to be pressed and squeezed. where it’s a traditional dish. though it tastes so horrible that even there many people don’t like it. Their meat contains very smelly. YUCK FACTOR! d as Hákarl is regularly describe ng one of the most disgusti . the shark meat is hung to dry for another two months. dried. rld smelling foods in the wo TOP TIP! SMELLY SHARKS Hákarl is made from either Greenland sharks or basking sharks. try holding your nose so that the horrendous smell doesn’t put you off before you begin. smelling strongly of ammonia. Like some other disgusting foods. After it has begun to rot. Delicious! It’s eaten in Iceland. like meat fat. a chemical that can make your eyes water. rotted shark meat. then cut into small cubes. An Icelandic farmer hangs shark meat to dry in his shed as part of the process of making hákarl. Its texture is soft and squishy.DISGUSTING HUMANS 67 Hç KARL Hákarl is poisonous. When you have hákarl for the first time. it smells even worse than it tastes. harmful chemicals.
a mushroom). This man is digging for caterpillar fungus. since they have been known to make people ill. Scientists have found that they contain useful medical chemicals. But if you are offered one. In other words. The caterpillar dies just under the soil’s surface. something that starts life as a caterpillar later becomes a plant (or. summer grass”. The fungus spreads its roots through the caterpillar’s whole body. which lives underground in the winter. MUSHROOM MEDICINE TOP TIP! People can eat caterpillar mushrooms whole or crumble them into soup. These names mean “winter worm.68 DISGUSTING HUMANS CHINESE CATERPILLAR FUNGUS In the Himalayas where it is found. In the spring. CATERPILLAR INVASION YUCK FACTOR! This caterpillar-mushroom yone combo is enough to put an like off – especially if you don’t h! mushrooms to start wit What actually happens is that a fungus invades the ghost moth caterpillar. and they are used as a traditional medicine in China. killing and preserving it. this strange fungus is called “yartsa gunbu” or “dong chong xia cao”. in this case. Caterpillar mushrooms have been eaten for centuries by mountain people. dead caterpillar is still attached. the hardened. it’s best not to eat it. which is very valuable in China. . a mushroom sprouts out of its head! When you pick the mushroom. They are also made into pills. A handful of freshly picked caterpillar mushrooms.
You can pop or scoop the eyeballs out of the fish’s head and eat them whole. then fry them in breadcrumbs. stuff each eyeball with chopped mushrooms. the front part of the eye. But a lot of people like eating REAL eyeballs – especially those from cows. where people often roast a whole sheep for a feast. STUFFED EYEBALLS For a traditional French recipe called “yeux de veau farcis”.TOR!69 K FACHUMANS YUCDISGUSTING EYEBALLS Maybe you’ve eaten eyeballs made of jelly or chocolate at Halloween. If you ever have to eat an eyeball when you don’t really want to. Yummm! Some people love to munch eyeballs just like this one. gulp it down whole. Imagine biting into it! TOP TIP! FISH EYES In many parts of Asia. sheep. The roasted eyeballs are usually plucked out and eaten first. and fish. Many people find eyes e delicious – for others they’r ! ng sti just too disgu ROASTED SHEEPÕ S EYE Sheep eyeballs are popular in Saudi Arabia. the eyes are considered the tastiest parts of a fish. They are treated as a special snack or treat. and iris. lens. . or given to the guest of honour at a dinner party. you boil calves’ eyeballs. They are said to be very chewy and squishy to eat. so you donÕ t normally have a big plateful of them. Many people spit out the hard cornea. cut off the cornea. Chewing releases the gooey jelly inside! ESPECIALLY FOR YOU Eyes are only a small part of an animal.
dirty socks. Inside are large seeds surrounded by creamy. A durian cut open to reveal its soft. but apart from that it’s quite lovely. custardy flesh. although it smells bad. stinky flesh. What could be so disgusting about that? Well. YUCK FACTOR! It smells baaaaad. the durian is famous for its revolting smell. rotten onions. AN INDESCRIBABLE EXPERIENCE DID YOU KNOW? In Thailand. it is illegal to eat durians in public because the smell could upset other people. cat pee. Durians grow on trees of up to 36 m (120 ft) tall – they are native to Brunei. The fruits can grow up to the size of footballs. It is said to taste buttery. TOP TIP! . antiseptic. pig poo. and are covered in spikes. WHAT IS IT? Durians grow on trees found in Southeast Asian countries. Indonesia. smelly cheese. such as Indonesia and Malaysia. and cream cheese! Yet. The smell of the durian has been compared to many things. and fruity. though some people love it. many people adore the taste of durians and will pay lots of money for a ripe one. toilets. nutty. including vomit. A railway sign in Singapore: no durians allowed. and Malaysia. custardy. Do not hang around under a durian tree! The heavy fruits can kill people when they ripen and fall.70 DISGUSTING HUMANS DURIAN Durian isn’t a scary animal body part or a delicacy made from rotted food – it’s just a fruit. ripe.
COFFEE BERRIES Coffee beans grow inside fruits called coffee berries. YUCK FACTOR! lly poo. There are two reasons for this. the civet cats like eating the ripest.DISGUSTING HUMANS 71 CIVET COFFEE The palm civet is a shy. Their bodies digest the soft fruit. and roasted. the coffee is roasted at a high temperature so any germs are killed. and it’s made using coffee beans that have passed through the intestines of a Southeast Asian animal called the civet cat. softening them and changing their flavour. chemicals in the animals’ intestines soak into the beans. and delicious. Secondly. The beans are collected from the civet cat’s dung. rich. Civet-poo coffee isn’t actua ng! sti gu dis t so it’s not all tha It’s the most expensive and prized coffee in the world.5 kg (1 lb). It’s completely safe to drink. or as much as $80 for a cup in a café. which are eaten by the civet cats. IS IT WORTH IT? Civet coffee is said to taste extremely smooth. nocturnal creature that is rarely seen. but the harder beans stay intact. which contain the best beans. ready to be ground and made into coffee. Firstly. perfect berries. meaning “civet coffee”. washed. It can cost more than US$160 per 0. WHAT ABOUT GERMS? Although it’s fished out of animal droppings. chocolatey. most . and it comes from … an animal’s poo! The coffee is called “kopi luwak”. You can clearly see the coffee beans in these civet droppings.
which you have to spit out. It was a breakfast for a king!” Get your take away here! A box of fried chicken feet makes a nice chewy snack. . that I was impatient to taste it. In China. “and exhaled so delicious an odour. gooey jelly. ELEPHANTÕ S FOOT In 1790. a French explorer named François Le Vaillant described how he was served elephant’s foot in Africa as a meal! His hosts buried the feet in hot embers from a fire. YUCK FACTOR! olting Feet are really no more rev ve ha t jus you than other meat – m! the to to get used BIRD FEET In many parts of Asia you can buy a chicken or duck foot on the street as a snack. TASTY TROTTERS Pig’s feet. baking them until they were soft. have a bit more meat on them. though. they take the bones out of pig’s trotters and stuff them to make a kind of foot sausage. he explained. or trotters. The feet are stewed or boiled for a long time so that their tough. They are still full of tiny bones. They just have to be carefully cooked to make them less chewy and bony. but they have actually been a favourite. just like a hot dog. stringy tendons and joints turn into a chewy. cheap food for centuries. Some people also make bird feet into soups and stews.72 DISGUSTING HUMANS ANIMAL FEET Feet may not seem like they have much meat. “It looked so nice”. and in Sri Lanka you can get pig’s-trotter curry. In Italy. they’re made into a spicy stew.
boiled bird spit – yuc SALIVA SOUP Bird’s nest soup is made from the nests of small Southeast Asian birds called swiftlets. which is usually mixed with chicken for extra flavour. still slightly moist with spit. the saliva swells and dissolves.DISGUSTING HUMANS 73 BIRD'S NEST SOUP It’s disgusting enough to think of a soup made of nests. . When boiled in water. Bird’s nest soup in a restaurant. A bird’s nest collector examines his latest find inside a cave in Thailand. since harvesting the nests can destroy the swiftlets’ eggs and reduce their numbers. gluing bits of moss. TOP TIP! It’s best to avoid bird’s nest soup. there are also artificial caves built for the swiftlets to nest in. feathers. CHINESE DELICACY The nests are shipped to China. ready to eat. making a gelatinous gloop. In Indonesia.200). hair. Collectors climb inside the caves to reach the nests. and seaweed to the cave wall with strands of sticky saliva.5 kg (1 lb) of the nests can cost more than £725 (US$1. where they are in great demand to make bird’s nest soup. DID YOU KNOW? SwiftletsÕ nests are among the most pricey foods on Earth Ð 0. But the ones in bird’s nest soup aren’t made of twigs and grass like most birds’ nests. It hardens to form a small cup shape. No – they’re made of bird spit! YUCK FACTOR! k! Gluey. The inside of a swiftlet nest. They make their nests high on the walls of sea caves.
pâtés. Africa. As well as being coated in chocolate. people dig up ant hills or knock ant swarms off trees.74 DiSGUSTiNG HUMANS CHOcOLATEcOvEREd ANTS YUcK FAcTOR! a of If you can get over the ide are ts an . but they are usually cooked. Then they pick up the twigs and slurp the ants off. In Mexico. CATcHING ANTS Tasty ants. They play an important role in many people’s diets. then dunk the ants in water to separate them from their eggs and bits of soil. All of the ants in the world combined weigh as much as all the humans in the world – maybe even more! Some ants can be gobbled up raw. . or burgers. tie tas the probably A OASTED GIANT T coating in choco late NTS You really can buy chocolatecovered ants – mainly as a novelty food. Different species have different flavours. In parts of Brazil. or lemons! DId YOU KNOW? There are thought to be more ants on Earth than any other animal or insect. people stand hollow twigs filled with oil in the ground to attract ants. people also eat ant eggs and larvae (babies). People use all kinds of tricks to harvest ants. In Thailand. butter. but they can taste like bacon. toasted and ready to eat: this is what a packet of ants might look like! soups. But in South America. lies raw eating creepy-c st. eating ants is widespread. ants can be stir-fried or made into ANT REcIpES TOP TIP! Cooking some poisonous ants by boiling them or frying them gets rid of the chemicals in their stings. and Asia.
bogong moths often cluster on the sides of buildings. and served on not. But since so many moths arrive each year. You can still try them at the Ngan Girra Festival. rolled Would you like moths mash bun at a into a ball. Australia. and mountain pygmy possums. lizards. as a snack. Another traditional way to enjoy moths is to eat them one by one. Collect your moths from caves and follow the recipe. go to the caves where bogong moths gather to roost in their thousands every summer (you’ll find them in Australia’s Snowy Mountains). The moths make a very good source of food and energy. they are an important food for all kinds of other . squash it to make a burger. such as spiders. Then scoop up handfuls of tasty moths and roll them in hot ashes to burn off their wings and legs.… Today. and roast it over a camp fire. which is held in New South Wales. MOTH FEAST The bogong moth has a wingspan of 45 mm (1¾ in) and two spots on each wing.DISGUSTING HUMANS 75 MOTHBURGER Mmm – a traditional mothburger recipe! First. every summer. Shape it into a ball. Mothburgers were traditionally eaten by Australian Aboriginal (native) people at a special summer festival. Mash them up to make delicious “moth meat”. animals. YUCK FACTOR! ed. Yum! Attracted by warmth. you don’t have to eat a whole mothburger. So it made sense to use them when they were so plentiful. since they contain a lot of fat and protein. ybe your next barbecue? Ma SUMMER SNACK TOP TIP! If you’re not very hungry. the moths are not an important part of most Australians’ diets.
76 DISGUSTING HUMANS
Witchetty grubs are big, fat, creamy white, wriggly baby insects that have been a traditional snack in Australia for thousands of years. They are one of the most famous insect foods in the world.
Plump, juicy witchetty grubs.
them, or cook them in the hot ashes of a camp fire. They taste like nutty, buttery scrambled eggs.
“Grub” is another name for a larva, or baby insect. Witchetty grubs are a type of moth larvae, so they’re really a kind of caterpillar. The larvae can grow to 7 cm (2¾ in) long, and you can eat them raw, fry them, roast
at They may seem disgusting s. ou lici de e first, but they’r
In the past, witchetty grubs were an important food for Aboriginal (native) people living in the outback (Australian desert). They would dig up the grubs from underground, where they live inside the roots and trunks of certain types of trees and bushes, most often the river red gum tree, which is native to Australia. Today, not many people rely on them for food, but you can still eat them at some restaurants and festivals.
These witchetty grubs are being prepared for cooking.
Witchetty grubs make a great barbecue food. You cook them on a skewer, just like a kebab.
Boing! Grasshoppers and their hopping cousins, crickets, cicadas, and locusts, are among the best insect foods in the world. They are large, packed with protein, and tasty, and there are millions of them!
If you’re nervous about tasting insects, try them chocolate-dipped.
Across Asia, and in parts of the Americas and Africa, grasshoppers and locusts are a common food. They are usually fried or roasted with salt, and are eaten as a snack along with a drink. In Australia, you can even buy a locust recipe book, which calls them “sky prawns”!
A pile of large fried grasshoppers like this will fill you up with healthy protein.
People have been eating bouncing bugs for thousands of years. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle liked eating cicadas!
,a If you have to eat an insect best r grasshopper is probably you p! rim sh bet. Just imagine it’s a
Before eating grasshoppers, it’s best to take off their large wings and legs.
FOOD IN A FAMINE
Swarms of locusts often cause food shortages as they eat farmersÕ crops. But people may be able to survive by just eating the locusts instead. In fact, experts think insects of all kinds will become a more important food in the future, as climate change causes crop failures and famines.
78 DISGUSTING HUMANS
A mopane worm is a type of caterpillar that lives in trees.
nice, but Their slimy insides aren’t d for these are a very normal foo millions of people.
Chewy, meaty mopane worms are a staple food all over southern Africa. Once you’ve squeezed out the slimy green guts (yuck!), you can have them as a snack with a cream cheese dip or in a hearty stew.
TOP TIP! Before eating
a mopane worm, you have to get rid of its bitter-tasting innards. You do this by squeezing it like a tube of toothpaste, then shaking it to flick the green slime away.
Mopane worms aren’t actually worms, but a type of moth caterpillar. They hatch in early summer (November in southern Africa) and crawl all over mopane trees, feeding and growing fat. People gather them, then dry them in the sun. They are also canned and sold in supermarkets. In fact, mopane worms are such an important food that during worm season, sales of other meats drop dramatically.
WHAT DO THEY TASTE LIKE?
Some say mopane worms don’t taste like much at all, so they’re often added to a spicy tomato stew to give them more flavour. But, fried or barbecued, some people think they taste like roast chicken.
Mopane worms are being cooked over an open fire here, ready for a feast.
folding the leaf over to make a packet. to ne alo let at.… READY TO ROAST Spiders are most popular as a food in South America and Southeast Asia. it makes sense to choose the biggest. In the Amazon rainforest. the body contains a runny gloop – even when cooked – containing the internal organs. which is a A Thai zebra tarantula. so they are among the easiest spiders to catch. fattest ones. . YUCK FACTOR! olting A big hairy tarantula is rev eat. served in Thailand. tarantulas move quite slowly. But in large spiders. people cook huge tarantulas by squeezing their insides out onto a leaf. Especially because if you’re going to bother cooking and eating spiders. Disgusting! TOP TIP! To avoid eating the spider’s fangs.79 ROASTED SPIDERS For those who are scared to even go near a spider. this is probably the most revolting creepy-crawly snack of all. In Cambodia. Eating a spider is a bit like eating a crab. with soft. you can buy large whole roasted spiders at markets and eat them as a snack. Some people even use them as toothpicks! Fried tarantulas with noodles. and cooking it over hot embers. they can be snipped off with scissors before cooking. pale meat in the head and legs. popular food in Cambodia. k enough to loo TASTY TARANTULAS DID YOU KNOW? Although theyÕ re big.
It’s a kind of “offal” – meat made of organs. They are named after their shapes. rubbery texture. such as brains. Some people say it tastes rotten and feels like glue or snot. where they make tripe soup. and in Turkey. tripe has to be boiled for hours to make it soft enough to chew.80 DISGUSTING HUMANS TRIPE Tripe is made from an animal’s stomach lining (usually a cow’s). The traditional British way to serve tripe is boiled with milk and onions. and include honeycomb tripe and pocket tripe. tripe has to be very well washed. Mmm! A bowl of well-boiled tripe served and ready to eat. which explains why it’s always been a popular meal. you’d probably rather eat DONÕ T FORGET TO WASH IT! BOILED TO BITS Once it’s washed. terrifying foods in this secti tripe. low in fat. DID YOU KNOW? There are different types of tripe. depending on which of a cowÕ s several stomachs it comes from. Before humans can eat it. TOP TIP! . Lovely! YUCK FACTOR! more Compared to some of the on. Unwashed tripe is used as pet food for cats and dogs and is sometimes called “green tripe” – animals like cows eat mainly grass. so their stomach contents are green. since in its natural state it is coated with acidic stomach slime mixed with whatever the animal has been eating. and very cheap. It’s a traditional food in England and France. lungs. Some people find tripe extra-revolting because of its vomit-like smell and spongy. squishy softness. and heart. It’s also high in protein. But others love its silky.
You can eat the ears. It’s often served with potatoes or crusty bread and a tomato or onion sauce. YUCK FACTOR! r it looking As long as you can get ove ld actually cou ad at you. and Scandinavian countries. he as been nibbled o at h ff. BEST BITS HOW IS IT COOKED? To prepare a sheep’s head. tas be quite WHY? You may not think of a head as providing much meat. hair. teeth. skin. and gristle. or roast it in an oven. you have to wash it well. parts of Africa. scrape off the People who enjoy eating sheep’s heads often claim that the tongue and brains are the tastiest parts. the brains. the flesh covering the skull. where it is a Christmas speciality. hair. the eyes are the best treats of all (see page 69). a sheep’s he ty.DISGUSTING HUMANS 81 SHEEPÕ S HEAD Imagine you sit down for dinner and there on your plate is a whole sheep’s head. the cheeks. This lovely delicacy is eaten in the Middle East. But there is quite a lot of meat on an animal’s head. since it’s mostly bones. salt it. me A ed ok co … and afte rt served with sausa ead. and soak it in water. though for some. and of course the eyeballs. Then you can boil it for several hours with chopped vegetables. such as Iceland and Norway. the tongue. ge … ’s h p e she .
it will sink. skin-like membrane. Before that. the egg starts to change as the bacteria feed on it and give off toxic waste chemicals. that means it is filling up with gas and has started to go bad. it will smell and feel very light. Their hard shell. you can tell how fresh an egg is by putting it in a bowl of water. TOP TIP! YUCK FACTOR! l – but Rotten eggs are really fou ers sid con e at least no on them a food! . And never eat a cracked egg! DID YOU KNOW? If an egg is really rotten. As it dries up. bacteria can get inside it. GERM INVASION Eggs can last quite a long time without going bad – several weeks or even months. a stinky gas fills the shell. it’s truly disgusting. The lid helps keep the smell in! GASSY EGGS One of the main chemicals that is released when an egg rots is called hydrogen sulphide. The same gas is also found in farts! To keep eggs fresh. Like any rotting food. If you accidentally break a bad egg and get it on your hands or clothes. But as an egg gets older. especially if it has any tiny cracks in it. It is this gas that has the classic “rotten egg” smell. If it floats. in the fridge. If it is fresh. A rotten egg broken into a jar of water. lined with a stretchy.82 DISGUSTING HUMANS ROTTEN EGGS Some people have a disgusting habit – forgetting to throw old food away. Beware! The smell of rotten eggs is one of the worst in the world. store them inside their box. is very good at keeping germs out.
or sometimes “century eggs”.000-YEAR-OLD EGGS YUCK FACTOR! An egg that’s well past its sell-by date can be truly revolting. such as salt and quicklime. The white becomes a firm jelly. these eggs take just a few weeks or months to make. they were covered in natural clay.000-year-old egg may taste okay. eggs seem For most people. but do not actually rot. A 1. ancient they have like a revolting food – but millions of fans. The covering stops bacteria from invading them. and they do not “go bad” like a normal rotten egg. the eggs change. covered in mud and left until they turn into grey. too.DISGUSTING HUMANS 83 1. to the mix. things. The eggs can also be made by soaking them in a special salty liquid. are a Chinese delicacy. creamy. In fact. These eggs have a strong odour of ammonia from the chemicals used to make them. or tofu. Not everyone likes them. but some people think they’re delicious! Because they look so ancient. or even 100 years old. cheese-like substance. they’re known as 1. Inside. WHAT REALLY HAPPENS? A 1.000-year-old egg is not really 1. but it does smell bad.000-year-old eggs. soy sauce.000-year-old eggs with pickled ginger. but today century egg makers add other Century eggs for sale at a market in China. Traditionally. TOP TIP! . Yet smelly duck or chicken eggs. gooey jelly. and the yolk turns to a grey. It’s best to serve 1.000 years old.
or feelers to put you off. too. The adults feed the larvae on sweet nectar and pollen from flowers. SWEET AS HONEY Baby bees grow inside a bees’ hive. A plate of bee larvae cooked and served with a herb garnish. BEE BOUNTY Bee larvae can be collected from the wild or grown in hives. They are a good insect food if you’re squeamish. and worker bees bring them food. and many people who try bee larvae say that they have a sweet. because before they become adults. baby bees are big business. In some places. and order them in bars and restaurants. and you can buy jars and cans of them in supermarkets. they don’t have any wriggly legs. that the bees build. wings. tasty bee larvae. or nest. RECIPES Here are just a few of the ways bee larvae can be cooked: Fried with salt and pepper and served as a snack Cooked in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar Made into a stew with chillies Mixed into an omelette Or you can just pick them out of the hive and eat them raw! YUCK FACTOR! insect One of the less disgusting yet! es be n't are snacks – larvae .84 DISGUSTING HUMANS BEE LARVAE Bee larvae (baby bees) are often eaten in Japan and other Asian countries. one inside each of the small hexagonal chambers. stingers. Bee larvae live in hexagon-shaped cells. or “cells”. In Japan. honey-like taste. such as rural Thailand. finding a wild bees’ nest means a special treat – fresh honey and fat.
The taste is a little like strongly flavoured. it’s just what it says it is – a real moose’s nose. and herbs. A moose’s nose where it is supposed to be – attached to its owner.DISGUSTING HUMANS 85 MOOSE NOSE Moose nose is a Canadian and Inuit speciality. . boiled. It sounds as if it might be just a descriptive name for a dish. skinned. big noses. fatty beef. pepper. But no. To cook a moose nose. making “moose nose jelly”. Moose live in North America. where they are often hunted for their skin and meat. vegetables. and sliced. YUCK FACTOR! of any As long as you steer clear cy! lica de snot. this is a delicious PREPARING THE FEAST WHAT IS A MOOSE? A moose is a large member of the deer family. like a yule log or mud pie (neither contain actual logs or mud). Moose have unusually long. and it’s said to be the tastiest part of them. You can eat the sliced-up meat with sauce. Then you boil them again with salt. you have to chop the nose and upper lip off the moose head and boil them for a couple of hours until it’s easy to remove the thick skin and hairs. or pour jelly over it and leave it to set.
They have large heads and very big. Then you simply snap off the rest of the ant’s body. week sounds yuc l. powerful jaws. If termites eat your crops. they don’t let go. SECURE STITCHES DID YOU KNOW? Safari ants can swarm in huge numbers. in Zambia. such as soldiers who defend the colony against enemies. A safari ant colony contains several different types of ant. then hold a soldier ant up to the wound so that it bites the edges together. it’s very useful for closing up gashes and injuries. They can stay there for up to a week. They donÕ t move fast. When they bite. leaving the jaws in place. in the same way that stitches and sutures are used in hospitals. These safari ants. so itÕ s possible to run away Ð but they have been known to devour people who get trapped and canÕ t move. you can use safari ants to get rid of them. . marching through villages and farmland. TOP TIP! A safari ant in action. You hold the cut closed. even if they are killed. be usefu ANT STITCHES SAFARI SOLDIERS Instead of just eating ants. Though the soldier safari ant’s bite is painful. why not use their biting jaws as stitches when you cut yourself? This is how some people in East Africa use a type of ant called the safari ant. The powerful jaws of a safari ant. have found a pile of tasty mayonnaise.86 DISGUSTING HUMANS YUCK FACTOR! n all Having ant jaws in your ski can it t bu ky. They attack the termites and drive them away.
it becomes a strand. This helps webs hold together in wind and rain and cling tight to insects that get caught in them. but as it stretches out. Spiders use threads of silk to dangle on and weave them together to make nests. dusty. or spin webs for catching insects. This might be one of the biggest communal spider webs ever found. And because many people are scared of spiders. The webs of some spider species can be used as bandages. STRETCHY AND STICKY Spider silk is incredibly strong. It was created by spiders from several different species in Lake Tawakoni State Park. line their tunnels. YUCK FACTOR! r It’s horrible if it sticks to you . Others are used to make bags and fishing nets! . fly-filled cobwebs dangling in your face. they find cobwebs horrifying or revolting. which spiders make using special organs in their abdomens. Even small cobwebs on ceilings are creepy. and sticky. The silk starts out as a jelly-like liquid. It also explains why cobwebs can catch on your skin and stick to your face when you walk into them. but some people don’t brush them away! SPIDER SILK Cobwebs are made of fine threads of spider silk. sticky. stretchy. USA.DISGUSTING HUMANS 87 COBWEBS No haunted house or spooky dungeon is complete without trails of floaty. Texas. you rt hu ’t can b face. but a cobwe TOP TIP! Spider silk can be very handy.
waving movements. old spider legs. such as flies’ eyes. and may hold tiny particles of poisonous lead from old paint and car exhaust. body bits. It often contains pollen grains from plants. and dust mite dung. they sweep it back out with rippling. When you breathe in dust. since it catches the dust. YUCK FACTOR! it Dust isn’t as harmless as ff. stu ing olt looks – it’s full of rev BODY BITS Household dust contains a lot of human bits. you just spread it around in the air and end up breathing it in. hairs. A wet cloth is better. which can give people hay fever. hair-shaped parts called cilia. TOP TIP! . DID YOU KNOW? Your nose and throat are lined with tiny. and pieces of scabs and toenails. It also contains pet hairs and parts of creepycrawlies. and dead dust mites and their droppings (see page 57). DANGEROUS DUST Dust can be bad for you. including dead skin flakes. A scuzzy dust ball of pet hairs. If you wipe up dust with a dry cloth or duster. dead insects.88 DISGUSTING HUMANS DUST Everyone knows what dust looks like – but what about close up? You’ll be disgusted to discover some of its most common ingredients.
It can be a killer! DAMP AND DELICIOUS YUCK FACTOR! Black mould just loves growing in damp places. but it’s worse than that. seed-like spores. TOP TIP! You can avoid mould if you keep surfaces dry and let fresh air into your house. . This damp. brick. related to mushrooms – and. It looks disgusting and dirty. dirty bathroom corner is a perfect home for black mould. Mould spores float in the air and can cause allergies and asthma. making it very difficult to remove. Mould can also release poisonous chemicals that can be deadly. mould spores can settle inside peopleÕ s throats and lungs and collect there! Yuck! This mould has grown and grown to form a large. but you would have to have an extremely mouldy house for it to get that bad. or in a damp cellar. really revolting. in bathrooms. yucky clump. SICKLY SPORES Mould is a type of fungus. where condensation runs down windowpanes and collects at the bottom. or plaster. like mushrooms. DID YOU KNOW? Occasionally.DISGUSTING HUMANS 89 BLACK MOULD When you see something black and patchy growing in circles on a bathroom ceiling. and often on wet windowsills. in a shower stall. it releases tiny. The mould has roots that reach deep into tile mortar. a Mould might not seem like be can it t bu big problem. that’s black mould. That’s why it appears in cellars.
Yet spitting is seen as one of the rudest. It’s our instinct to spit things out if they are poisonous or rotten. Why? WHAT IS SPIT? Your mouth releases saliva all the time. to chew and swallow food. you are giving them any germs you might have. although it’s ha ng and sti gu spitting is extremely dis le. and to talk easily. spitting at someone is a way of insulting them. even if itÕ s only their own spit! So why do we find spitting so disgusting? In most cultures. people are very reluctant to drink water that has spit in it. most disgusting things you can do. and we need it to help us chew and swallow. If you spit at someone. I SPIT AT YOU! Athletes often spit on the field or sidelines to clear out their throats. from small organs called salivary glands around your tongue. The spit is bright red. Saliva is mostly made of water. It could be something to do with disease germs being carried in our saliva. many people like to chew a mixture of betel leaves and areca nuts. DID YOU KNOW? In experiments. Strangely. or saliva. op pe upsetting for many SPIT Spit. In parts of Asia. then spit them out. Our mouths need to be wet in order to taste.90 DISGUSTING HUMANS YUCK FACTOR! rmless. so that could explain why seeing someone spit makes you feel queasy. along with some chemicals that help dissolve food. UGH! I CANÕ T SWALLOW THIS! We also find it disgusting to see people spit out food or spit into a drink. It’s in our mouths all the time. . leaving colourful splats on the ground. is an everyday thing.
usually fixed with a quick wa DID YOU KNOW? In one single day. Don’t get too close! Unwashed feet like these are usually the stinkiest of all. YUCK FACTOR! t they’re Sweaty feet can smell. Before socks and shoes. WHY ARE FEET SWEATY? Sweat comes from tiny glands in the skin. the smellier they get.000 each! Our feet move and bend all day long. As it evaporates into the air. The longer they wait for a wash. stinky socks are left in a heap for days or weeks on end. ran. It’s even worse if sweaty. it cools us down. we start to stink. bu sh. and keeping them damp stops the skin from cracking. released from our skin. and being slightly damp helps our hands to grip things. So after a while. Sweat also keeps our skin from drying out.DISGUSTING HUMANS 91 SWEATY FEET Pheeww-y! The smell of sweaty feet can have you holding your nose from the other side of the room. But bacteria on our skin feed on it and give out smelly substances. mainly made of water. Feet have loads of sweat glands – around 250. so sweaty feet were useful. Sweat itself doesn’t actually smell much. people walked. SO WHAT IS SWEAT? Sweat is a liquid. an adult manÕ s feet can produce more than 1 pt (500 ml) of sweat! . and climbed trees and rocks in bare feet. Feet also sweat to help them grip.
it makes the top of your oesophagus vibrate. As the gas escapes. with a burp of just over 107 decibels. t tha lly rea burping isn’t DID YOU KNOW? Paul Hunn from the UK claimed the world record for the loudest burp ever in 2008. YUCK FACTOR! me”. such as China and Ghana. thanks to the mixture of mashed-up food and strong stomach acid. burping (or belching) is considered rude. especially if you do a loud. You’ll burp even more if you have a fizzy drink. smelly belch at the dinner table. ThatÕ s as loud as an underground train! TOP TIP! If you want to avoid burping. and that can cause a belch. Sometimes. air gets into the stomach when we eat. however. . making them extra-disgusting. STINKY BURPS Drinking down a fizzy drink quickly is a great way to achieve long and noisy burps! It doesn’t smell great inside most people’s stomachs. In some countries. WHAT IS A BURP? We burp to let trapped gases escape from our stomachs. because it means you enjoyed your food. making the familiar burping sound. a belch can be acceptable. eat your food slowly and don’t gulp it.92 DISGUSTING HUMANS BURPS BUUURRRPP! Excuse me! In many cultures. Burps often carry this smell out with them. but You’ll have to say “excuse bad. as it contains lots of carbon dioxide gas.
But more often. and one of them is breaking wind. YUCK FACTOR! We all do it. Most people release roughly half a litre (a pint) of gas in total every day. WHY DOES WIND SMELL? DID YOU KNOW? Though many people find breaking wind terribly rude. itÕ s completely normal and everyone does it. lentils. Before it comes out. such as beans. Gas-causing foods include beans. GAS IN YOUR GUTS Like burping. and cabbage.93 FLATULENCE There are certainly many things ruder than burping. which often have a strong smell. Who did that? Intestinal gas can smell reeaally bad. onions. It happens when smelly gas escapes from you – usually making a loud and embarrassing noise. the gas collects in your guts. but it’s still really revolting. they give out gases. As they break down the food. Gas from fizzy drinks can make you flatulent. gas gathers in your intestines when bacteria and yeast inside you digest foods. TOP TIP! . or intestines – the long tubes that lead out of your stomach. breaking wind is just a way of letting gas out of your body.
slim ny. bogeys. So take care! Of course. but let anyone see you and you’ll be met with shouts of “Ewww!” YUCK FACTOR! if most of It can’t be THAT revolting s! us manage to pick our nose make crispy Before snot dries to y. even if only in secret. pollen. boogers. It even contains germ-killing chemicals. TOP TIP! Picking your nose too much can be bad for you. When they reach your stomach. Nasal (or nose) mucus keeps the inside of your nose damp. dried bits of mucus that collect up there. the polite thing to do is to collect your snot discreetly in a tissue. dust. it’s WHATÕ S SNOT FOR? Snot starts out as liquid mucus. or greenies – everyone with a nose knows about the crispy. as it makes the inside of your nose sore. mixed with bacteria. Bogeys are dried. run bogeys. a runny. and gloopy. too. germs in the snot may help to strengthen your bodyÕ s immune (germ-fighting) system. sticky substance produced by many parts of your body. But picking dried snot out is seen as more disgusting – especially if you eat it. . However. surveys suggest that almost everyone picks their nose sometimes. and could even be good for you. and traps germs and pollution to stop them from getting inside you. and pollution.94 DISGUSTING HUMANS SNOT Snot. Eating snot isn’t THAT gross – we actually swallow small amounts of it all the time as it trickles down the backs of our throats. It’s tempting to pick them. hardened bits of nasal mucus. PICK IT? EAT IT? DID YOU KNOW? Scientists have found that eating snot isnÕ t harmful.
you could cough up a jelly-like lump of phlegm like this. greenish or yellowish stuff that comes out of your throat when you have a bad cough or chest infection. For example. YUCK FACTOR! out a Ugh! There’s something ab truly blob of green phlegm that’s stomach-turning. which fight germs. thicker phlegm containing white blood cells. . partly because of its slimy. We are probably also instinctively afraid of phlegm because it appears when people are ill. so don’t have too much of them when you have a cold. but you may know what it looks like if you’ve been ill. It’s the gooey. wobbly texture. When you have a chest or throat illness. so touching it could mean catching germs. blood in the phlegm can be a sign of a serious disease called tuberculosis. quivering. jelly-like blob of green phlegm can make most people feel revolted.DISGUSTING HUMANS 95 PHLEGM You don’t normally see phlegm. SIGNS IN THE PHLEGM Phlegm is actually very useful for doctors. It catches bits of dust and germs to keep them out of your lungs. TOP TIP! Milk and dairy products can make phlegm thicker and yuckier. Tiny molecules in these cells make the phlegm look yellow or green! WHY IS IT DISGUSTING? The sight of a yucky. lining your throat and breathing tubes at all times. When you have a nasty cold or flu. your body makes extra. or mucus. It can contain clues about lung illnesses. ALWAYS THERE You actually have a thin layer of clear phlegm.
yellow type. EARWAX WAXY AND CLEAN Earwax comes from tiny glands in your ear canal (the tube leading into your ear). earwax is no big al. wetter. If too much wax collects. Earwax smells waxy and cheesy. gluey. and tastes even worse. DID YOU KNOW? Scientists can tell how old a whale is by counting the layers of earwax inside its ears. (Bet you didnÕ t even know whales had ears!) This earwax is the sticky. flakier earwax that is greyish in colour. It prevents the skin inside the ears from drying out and traps dust and germs. it tastes very bitter. (If this didn’t happen. a doctor can rinse it out using a water-filled syringe. everyone would get painful. but it’s actually very important. It also contains acidic chemicals that kill germs. Never stick anything in your ears to try to pick out earwax. the insides of your ears are churning out earwax. All the time. It smells funny. WHATÕ S IT LIKE? There are two types of earwax. the earwax gradually works its way out of your ears. brown or yellow earwax. and if you’re unlucky enough to get it in your mouth.96 DISGUSTING HUMANS YUCK FACTOR! ing body Compared to some revolt de bits. damaging ear infections all the time. while people with a European or African background have stickier.) As you move your jaw when you speak and eat. People with an Asian or Native American background usually have drier. TOP TIP! .
sandy. . the Sandman is a magical visitor who sprinkles sleeping sand onto children’s eyes to help them sleep and give them pleasant dreams. there’s often a bit of strange crusty stuff in the corners of your eyes. brownish clumps. It’s a liquid mixture of tears. your eyes stay shut for many hours. The Sandman sprinkles sleeping sand in this illustration. TOO CRUSTY! A little bit of rheum is normal and healthy. so the rheum collects in the corners. just “sleep”. dust that gets into your eyes.DISGUSTING HUMANS 97 EYE GUNK When you wake up in the morning. But if you have so much that itÕ s sealing your eyes shut in the morning. YUCK FACTOR! isn’t all This crunchy. THE SANDMAN Most of us have a bit of eye gunk each morning. or if your eyes are itchy and sore. it gets washed away as your eyes open and close. crusty gunk that revolting. mucus. and dead body cells. THE SANDMAN In fairy tales and folklore. It dries out and forms crusty. it can be a sign of an eye infection or disease. This idea comes from the rheum or “eye sand” that appears in the eyes every morning. or eye bogeys! Scientists call it “rheum”. sleepy dust. But at night. But what is it? SLEEPY DUST Your eyes constantly leak out a little bit of rheum. During the day. Some people call it eye gunk.
But itÕ s still pretty disgusting. TOP TIP! . Scabs aren’t gross. Then. You can sometimes stop a scab from itching by rubbing Vaseline on it. But don’t do it! Picking scabs can make your wound open and bleed. the scab finally falls off by itself – as long as you don’t pick it! DID YOU KNOW? In 2003. really – they’re good news. You might want to pick a scab just to see what’s underneath. Then you’ll get a bigger scab and could be left with a scar. making you ill. which means the wound is healing – but it can make you want to pick it. A scab is a natural cover for a wound. NATURAL PLASTER A large scab forming to cover a wound on someone’s leg. but pickin m the g them and eatin is gross. But picking scabs is definitely disgusting. The scab keeps germs out and protects the cut until it’s healed over. Most people have given in to the temptation to pick a scab. your body immediately starts fixing it. It’s made from bits of blood cells bound together with a stringy body chemical called fibrin. It makes your blood clot. Even worse. DONÕ T TOUCH THAT SCAB! YUCK FACTOR! g Scabs are helpful.98 DISGUSTING HUMANS SCABS When you get a cut or a scrape. A scab often feels itchy. or harden. germs could get in and infect the cut. a man who was lost in a jungle in Colombia for 12 days without food was forced to eat a large scab that formed after he cut his chin on a rock. and seals over the wound with a protective scab. and it was a good idea in this case. Yum! Eating scabs wonÕ t hurt you.
it forms a big boil or abscess. This gloopy yellow substance is made when germs invade the body and germ-killing cells go into battle with them. it forms a spot that eventually pops. after germs have got in. and they sometimes have to go to the hospital to have them removed. INFECTED WOUNDS The main place you’ll see pus is in a cut or other wound. You could force it deeper under your skin. or damage the skin and leave a scar. AND ABSCESSES Sometimes. Yuck! An infected wound may also look swollen and red. becau s es illn h wit ted it’s associa and germs. and it can smell revoltingly cheesy. This could happen around the root of a hair. for example. It looks like creamy yellow mayonnaise around or inside the wound. . it’s a sure sign that germs have got in. But if it’s deep under the skin. Germ-killing cells gather and pus forms. It’s a bad idea to squeeze the pus out of spots. or pimples. SPOTS. If this is just under the skin. BOILS. but it can’t escape – so it builds up under pressure to form a painful lump. Ouch! YUCK FACTOR! se Pus can be revolting. bacteria finds its way under the skin. TOP TIP! DON’T try to squeeze the pus out of spots – you could make them worse. These can make people seriously ill. and feel painful.DISGUSTING HUMANS 99 PUS If your body’s making pus. and the pus comes out.
A sneeze starts when something irritates the nerves inside the nose. DId YOU KNOW? Bright lights make some people sneeze. SNEEzES SpREAd dISEASES TOP TIP! You can sometimes prevent a sneeze by stretching your upper lip downwards over your front teeth or pressing your upper lip firmly. No one knows the reason for this. In fact. or flu germs far and wide. which then sets the sneeze off. some germs make you sneeze as a way of ensuring they spread easily from one person to another. First you take a big breath. cold. someone sneezes right on instead of into a tissue! Sneezing sprays droplets of your snot and saliva into the air. HOw A SNEEzE wORkS YUcK FAcTOR! olting if Sneezing is only really rev you. These nerves send messages to your brain. then powerful muscles in your chest force air out of your nose and mouth at a great speed. If you’re ill.100 DiSGUSTiNG HUMANS SNEEZING Ah … ahh … ahhh … CHOO!!! You sneeze when you have a cold or flu – but also if you get dust or pepper up your nose. . Sneezing is a reflex that helps us clear out our noses – whether they’re filled with too much snot or have sniffed in something irritating. this can spread your cough. A spray of droplets from a sneeze is caught on camera.
everyone can get rid of it. Why do people get travel sick from going on a ride at an amusement park. It makes you cough and choke. So why do we do it? GET THIS OUT OF HERE! Your body uses vomiting to get dangerous stuff out of your stomach. being on a boat. but your body does it to save you from something even worse – illness or even death caused by something you’ve eaten. poison. too. or even just being in a moving car? Scientists think that if you sway or whirl around. your brain gets mixed messages from your eyes and from the balancing system in your ears. travel sickness. hurling up a mixture of mashed-up food and stinky stomach acid through your mouth and nose is vile. TOP TIP! To avoid Vomiting serves a useful purpose but feels terrible. FEELING DIZZY ALL SICK TOGETHER Seeing or even just hearing someone throw up can make other people around them sick. This makes your brain less confused. or food that’s gone bad can all make you throw up.YUCK FACTOR! VOMIT don’t find There are few people who . It’s unpleasant. such as the horizon. . This is actually useful Ð it means that if everyoneÕ s eaten the same bad food. try to lock your eyes on a fixed point. and it tastes and smells hideous. This is like what some poisons do to you – they make you feel dizzy and confused. Germs. making you feel dizzy. So your body may decide you’re being poisoned and make you vomit. ive uls vomit really rep Vomiting is horrible! Whether it’s caused by a stomach bug or a dizzying roller coaster.
including a toxic chemical called urea. Your blood is constantly being filtered through two organs called kidneys. People lost in the desert have survived by drinking their urine. But if you’ve ever smelt week-old wee splashed around a toilet. It’s not too smelly to start with. It only takes 45 minutes for them to filter all the blood in your body! As they do so.102 DISGUSTING HUMANS WEE YUCK FACTOR! m It’s natural to find waste fro our own bodies gross. itÕ s very clean. Unlike poo. especially when it starts to break down into other chemicals. it will rea Everybody has to go to the toilet several times a day to let out wee. (A human body is around 60 per cent water!) Urine is a mixture of spare water and waste chemicals that need to be flushed out from the body. sn’t get washed If this person’s wee doe rt to smell. HOW DOES IT WORK? DID YOU KNOW? When wee first comes out. they collect spare water and waste chemicals. though this isnÕ t a good idea. or urine. TOP TIP! Drinking plenty of water keeps your kidneys working well. sta lly away soon. you’ll know that it has a disgusting smell! LIQUID IN. the stinkier it gets. or when germs collect in it. LIQUID OUT We have to drink liquid regularly to keep our bodies filled with water. That’s why the longer urine hangs around. it contains no germs at all. since urea is not very good for you. Urea is smelly. .
especially the bits that our bodies can’t digest well. because poo can contain dangerous disease germs. Some flies. it still contains some useful food. most ng of all. though. Watch where you put your feet! WHAT IS POO? Poo (scientifically known as faeces) is partly made of leftover food. such as fruit and vegetable skins and seed husks. . Dog poo on the street. it is also coated with slippery mucus to help it leave your body in a nice. We’re right to find it gross. which are harmless in your intestines. DID YOU KNOW? Although poo is a waste substance. As the poo travels along inside your intestines. poo the most revolting thi TOP TIP! Always wash your hands after using the toilet! You knew that – but why? Germs in poo. This photo from Bangladesh shows cow dung (poo) being dried in the sun to make fuel. Recoiling from it and washing it away keeps us safe and healthy. can poison you if they get on your food and into your stomach. It’s these bacteria that give poo its horribly stinky smell. YUCK FACTOR! people find Though it’s natural.DISGUSTING HUMANS 103 POO Everyone has to poo. They are mixed with a bit of water and millions of bacteria that live naturally in our intestines. and other bugs like to eat poo. You can also catch other people’s diseases from germs in their poo. and yet we find poo deeply disgusting. neat fashion. beetles.
They could dig a pit some distance from their homes and go there. people living in cities used a bowl called a chamber pot (usually made of china) and simply emptied it into the road. the tank releases the water into the bowl. but instead emptied into a sewer-like channel and were flushed with a flow of clean water. where waste from modern flush toilets is processed. (This still happens in some parts of the world. LIFE WITHOUT TOILETS A sewage plant. It collects wee. the t jus . FLUSH TOILETS Proper flushing toilets were first invented in 1594. Toilets may seem a bit gross. Compared to this. poo. but it was almost 300 years later before they became widespread. which washes everything away down another pipe known as a siphon. but they’re lovely compared to the alternative! Before flush toilets and sewers. ANCIENT TOILETS The ancient Romans. and you can flush it all away into the sewer. flushing water TOILET In modern cities. ut ho be much smellier wit world where water In many parts of the toilets don’t use is very scarce.104 DISGUSTING HUMANS YUCK FACTOR! life would Toilets can be gross. some force of gravity. A flush toilet has a water tank connected to the bowl that you sit on. most homes have a nice. people had to do their poos and wee somewhere else. When you flush. The toilets didnÕ t have modern water tanks. and other disgusting stuff. shiny flush toilet. a proper toilet seems positively delightful. but them. had early toilets thousands of years ago. and the people of the ancient Indus Valley civilization in India. .) During medieval times and even up until the 1600s. such as vomit.
strong cleaning chemicals. SEWER SOUP If you think about everything that you flush or rinse away. In this open sewer in India. TAKE IT AWAY! They may be gross. Floating along in a stream of dirty water and wee are poo. The waste is often then released into the sea. When sewage reaches a treatment plant. hardened frying fat from restaurants. BEASTS OF THE SEWERS You may have heard tales of escaped turtles or crocodiles roaming around in city sewers. where does it all go? Into the sewers – a network of tunnels under the streets. but some people do). Actually. mud. They carry human waste away to be cleaned up and treated. olt rev ly us rio now. you’ll realize that a sewer contains a lot of revolting stuff. or throw sour milk down your kitchen sink. they’re not a nice place to be. but of course having sewers is actually good news.R! DISGUSTING HUMANS FACTO YUCK SEWER r right If you stepped inside a sewe ing. They remove waste from where we live. waste flows between the houses. too. . they give off stinky gases. spit out your toothpaste. this hardly ever happens Ð but sewers are home to thousands of hungry rats. chunks of rancid. Some elements may be refined and recycled for use in farming or for other industrial use. bits of rotten food. which feed on the bits of smelly food. And as you can imagine. helping us stay clean and healthy. vomit. it would be se When you flush your toilet. As these things mix together and rot. the waste is treated and filtered to make it safe. and even dirty nappies (you are not supposed to put these down the toilet.
This acid can start to eat away at your teeth. Gum and bone damage . These are the little wriggling “animalcules” (or tiny animals) that van Leeuwenhoek saw. da a your teeth twice que bacteria seen A close up of tooth pla under a microscope. very prettily a-moving”. who had invented an early microscope. especially sugar. In 1683. too. EATING YOUR TEETH A few of these germs actually live naturally in your mouth and are normally harmless. Healthy tooth Plaque bacteria can damage the gums and bones around your teeth. To his amazement he saw “many very little living animalcules. Avoiding sticky. left on your teeth. if you want to reduce plaque. the bacteria give off a kind of acid as they feed on sugar. Dutchman Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. Something was living on his teeth! WHAT IS PLAQUE? TOP TIP! Obviously. but Tooth plaque is kind of gro clean you if easy to brush away y. But if you let a thick layer of plaque build up.106 DISGUSTING HUMANS TOOTH PLAQUE YUCK FACTOR! ss. It is actually made of millions of tiny bacteria feeding on old food. Healthy gums Healthy bone Plaque Tartar Reduced bone level Tooth plaque is a slimy substance that builds up in a layer all over your teeth if you don’t brush them enough. described how he had used it to look at his own tooth plaque. causing tooth decay. sugary foods and chewing sugarless gum can also help. you have to brush your teeth often and floss them.
YUCK FACTOR! th can If left untreated. “Decay” means rotting. As well as not brushing. a dentist should be able to step in before that happens. which eroded their gums and made their teeth weak and wobbly. Otherwise. the rot will reach the nerve inside your tooth and it will REALLY hurt. But one thing it can’t cope with is acid made by the bacteria in tooth plaque. sty na get really TOOTH INVASION! HOW IT WORKS Your teeth are covered with an incredibly hard substance called enamel. and it’s true – your teeth can literally rot away into blackened. and very painful stumps. It protects them from damage and lets you crunch hard nuts and candy.DISGUSTING HUMANS 107 TOOTH DECAY If you don’t clean your teeth properly to get rid of tooth plaque. . germs can get into the softer part inside your tooth. rotten tee . which slowly dissolves the tooth enamel away. It turns a dark blackish brown colour and also smells nasty. making it start to rot. Yuck! Luckily. A dentist can drill away the decay and replace the missing bit with a filling. Once there’s a hole in the enamel. many had scurvy from not eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Ouch! Several of this person’s teeth are decaying badly. tooth decay can set in. DID YOU KNOW? Pirates often had terrible decaying teeth and disgusting breath. smelly.
Yikes! WHICH SPIDERS? WHERE ARE THEY?! Only two main types of spider can cause this rotting. TOP TIP! If one of these spiders bites you. and call a doctor if it starts to hurt or itch. a few spider species have a truly dangerous bite that can make your skin and flesh start to wither and rot away. most spider bites are not dangerous. And even if they do. and six-eyed sand spiders from southern Africa. use an ice pack to cool it down. such as the brown recluse. First of all. keep the bite site clean and covered. However. They are the recluse spiders. is often minor. or “necrosis”. Some of these spiders can be deadly. ARE THEY KILLERS? . don’t panic! Most spiders don’t bite people. You may not even feel it. with their bites. but only very rarely. WHAT HAPPENS? A bite from one of these dangerous spiders. the skin becomes itchy and painful. In some people. This damaged area of flesh is known as a “volcano lesion” and can be as large as a human hand! The wound does eventually heal over. but full recovery could take months. A bite from a brown recluse spider can develop into a horrible wound. None of these spiders are likely to bite you. found mainly in the Americas. a large wound gradually forms and necrosis begins. They usually only bite if they get squashed or trapped in clothes or bed linen. But sometimes.108 DISGUSTING HUMANS SPIDER BITE YUCK FACTOR! The idea of part of your body rotting away and falling off is horrifying.
this person’s leg Following a snake bite be operated on. USA. SNAKEBITE There are many different kinds of venomous snake. A hand could swell to twice its size and be covered with huge. bubblelike blisters. This happens most often with snakes in the viper family. warns against snakes. YUCK FACTOR! rt of your A snakebite could make pa able. They can cause a large wound to open up or even make an entire hand. the best way to save a snakebite victim is to remove the arm or leg that has been bitten. swelled up and had to SWELLING AND BLISTERING If you’re lucky. in places that are far from a hospital. and scarring. Texas.A sign in Houston. Some of the pictures are so scary we can’t even put them in this book! ROTTING AWAY extremely The black mamba. foot. just swelling. an Africa. TOP TIP! If you ever see a snake. some snakebites make your flesh rot away. a snakebite won’t cause necrosis. and many different kinds of horrible snakebite that can cause terrible swelling. scare it. dangerous snake from Like the bite of the recluse spider. niz og body completely unrec . Do NOT try to poke it. blistering. such as rattlesnakes and bushmasters. LOSING A LIMB Sometimes. necrosis (flesh rotting). and it’s not always easy to tell what type of snake you have found. or arm rot away. or pick it up! Many snakes have dangerous bites. stay calm and back away quietly. .
To make sure they can breathe and move around.110 DISGUSTING HUMANS MAGGOT THERAPY You’ve got a nasty. stopping the rot from spreading. Maggots nibble away the dead bits. and leaving the wound clean and ready to heal.… HUNGRY FOR DEAD FLESH Maggots are baby flies (see pages 11–13). wriggling. they do. growing bigger and fatter until they are ready to turn into adult flies. dressing to a wound APPLYING MAGGOTS Medical maggots are not collected from dead animals found lying around – they’re specially bred and free of germs. some patients say that they can feel the maggots wriggling and tickling! DID YOU KNOW? Maggots have been used to clean wounds since ancient times. hungry maggots? Of course not! Well. Some species feed only ts are nibbling These hungry maggo aty lunch. That’s actually good news if you have gangrene. actually. cial maggot-filled A doctor applies a spe . What do the doctors do? Wrap it up in a bandage filled with live. They were reintroduced into modern medicine in the 1930s. . which means that some of your flesh is dying and rotting. YUCK FACTOR! d Putting maggots in a woun is it if seems utterly gross. their nibbling is a bit like having your hair or fingernails cut. me a h oug thr their way on the flesh of dead animals. They can stay in there for days! DOES IT HURT? Because maggots only eat dead tissue. and shouldn’t hurt. gangrenous wound that’s smelling bad and failing to heal. doctors apply them to the wound inside a loose dressing with air holes in it. even good for you. However.
but at lea tes.DISGUSTING HUMANS 111 LEECH HEALING If your doctor doesn’t decide to set maggots on you. you could get sucked by a bloodthirsty leech instead! Leeches. and as it sucks. Today. they can be used to vacuum up clogged or infected blood from wounds. which can grow to 20 cm (8 in) long – as big as a banana! leech is trying This small species of . The leech is placed on the reattached part. it increases blood flow where the parts have been surgically joined. Doctors usually use a bloodsucking species called the European medicinal leech. Not all leeches suck blood. fingers that have been chopped off and sewn back on. medicinal leeches are bred in special labs. only cling on for a few minu SLURPING UP THE BLOOD A doctor carefully applies a leech to skin after surgery. toe e’s eon som ble nib to WHATÕ S IT USED FOR? Because leeches suck blood. leaving them cleaned and healthy. Another useful job they can do is suck blood into body parts that have been reattached – for example. YUCK FACTOR! is Having a leech sucking you it st will pretty revolting. but a few do. LEECH GATHERERS People used to make a living collecting leeches from ponds and swamps for doctors to use. like maggots. are increasingly being used in medicine. .
25 FLPA/Minden Pictures/Flip Nicklin. 15b Photolibrary/Robert Oelman. Illustrations Pages: 14t Marshall Editions. 86b Laura Darby. 60 Corbis/ Louise Gubb. Lyttle. 26b Ardea/Adrian Warren. 59 Science Photo Library/Eye of Science. 55 Shutterstock/ pzAxe. 23br Corbis/ William Radcliffe. 69 Shutterstock/Algecireño. 110b Science Photo Library/Louise Murrary. 56 Corbis/Anthony Bannister. 91br Shutterstock/Beth Van Trees. 8–9 Getty Images/Paul Zahl. 45b Corbis/Douglas Peebles. 16 NaturePL/Rod Clarke/John Downer Productions. Smith. 43 Photoshot/NHPA/Nick Garbutt. 93br Shutterstock/ MarFot. Jeremy Burgess. A. Photos Pages: 1 Shutterstock/Werg. 70bl Marshall Editions. 93t Shutterstock. 70t Shutterstock/Ly Dinh Quoc Vu. 35t Ardea/Adrian Warren. 106 Corbis/Science Faction/David Scharf. 94b Shutterstock/ Madeleine Openshaw. 2br Shutterstock/Paul Prescott. University of Johannesburg. 93c Shutterstock/Katia Vasileva. 57 Shutterstock/ Sebastian Kaulitzki. 71t FLPA/Terry Whittaker. 27 Photolibrary/OSF. 103b Corbis/Gideon Mendel. 26t FLPA/ Minden Pictures/Cyril Ruoso. 99 Shutterstock/Suzanne Tucker. 74 Marshall Editions. 3br Shutterstock/Tan Kian Khoon. 79b Corbis/Owen Franken. 92b Shutterstock/Blight. 88 Shutterstock/Photoroller. 41 Getty Images/AFP/Henning Kaiser. 87b Brad Wofford. 33 NaturePL/Jouan Rius. 103t FLPA/David Hosking. 18 Science Photo Library/ Gustoimages. 84b FLPA/Gary K. 79t Shutterstock/Andrey Sukhachev. 19t Corbis/Robert Pickett. 30b Science Photo Library/ Tom McHugh. Nico J.com. 92 Mark Dodds/Flickr. 15t FLPA/Mark Moffett/ Minden Pictures. 73t StockFood/Fei. 2–3 Shutterstock/Stacy Barnett. Axel Gebauer. 37 NaturePL/ Andrew Parkinson. 6–7 Nature/Andrew Parkinson. 93bl Shutterstock/Arina. 20 Corbis/Reuters. . 66b Shutterstock/ Steffen Foerster Photography. Nordeng. 104 Shutterstock/ Konstantin Tavrov. 62–63 Rex Features/Proﬁle Press. com. 109b Photo Library/Scott Camazine. 42 Getty Images/Paul Zahl. 22 Photoshot/Oceans-Image/ Norbert Wu. 53b Corbis/Clouds Hill Imaging Ltd. 96 Gregory F. 89b Alamy/M. 44 NaturePL/Jose B. 58 Photolibrary/James Robinson. 97br Shutterstock/Julie DeGuia. 95 Erica Potechin. 51 Science Photo Library/Andrew Syred. 3tr Shutterstock/Sean Best. 110t Ardea/Jean Michel Labat. 64tr Photolibrary/Andy Stewart. 10 NaturePL/Kim Taylor. Texas. 77t Shutterstock/Bent G.112 DISGUSTING HUMANS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The publisher thanks the following agencies and illustrators for their kind permission to use their images. 30t NaturePL/Brandon Cole. 84t Shutterstock. 49 Ardea/Johan De Meester. 39 NaturePL/Suzi Eszterhas. 14c NaturePL/Arco/Wegner. 70br Shutterstock/Ly Dinh Quoc Vu. 106b Shutterstock. 28 Photolibrary/Kathie Atkinson. 23bl Corbis/Martin Harvey. 11 Rex Features/Robert Harding Associates/N. 91bl Shutterstock/Morgan Lane Photography. 75c Donald Hobern/ Flickr. 71b Getty Images/AFP/Jean-Baptiste Fauvel. Smit/Dept of Zoology. 40 Photolibrary/David Kirkland. 54l Timothy Branning. Hauser. 66t Shutterstock/Ostill. 34 Photoshot/NHPA/ Roger Tidman. 48 Corbis/Buddy Mays. 47t Kobal Collection/TRI-STAR. 94t Becca Lewis. 67 Getty Images/ National Geographic/Randy Olson. 82 Alamy/Oote Boe Photography. 73bl Corbis/Michael Freeman. 4–5 Shutterstock/Vinicius Tupinamba. 85 Shutterstock/Almondd. 97bl Mary Evans Picture Library. 38 Corbis/Joe McDonald. 31 NOAA/NMF/NWFSC Library. 77c Photo Library/Tips Italia. Seattle. 76t Science Photo Library/Peter Menzel. 12 FLPA/Nigel Cattlin. 78b Science Photo Library/Peter Menzel. 101 Photolibrary/Roland Marske/Voller Ernst. 80b Kent Wang. 68t NaturePL/Dr. 100 Corbis/Science Faction/William Radcliffe. 2–3t Shutterstock/Dusty Cline. 3bl Shutterstock/Holger W. Ruiz. 50r Shutterstock/Jeffrey Van Daele. 7t Becca Lewis. 2bl Shutterstock/Vitalii Nesterchuk. 75b Digital Vision. 90t Getty Images/Paul Spinelli. 72 StockFood/Food Collection. 61 Dr. South Africa. Wang Xiao. 87t Corbis/Cusp/C. Switak. 36 Corbis/Tim Davis. 111t Corbis/Tony Savino. 105 Corbis/Howard Davies. 54t NaturePL/Mark Taylor. 45t DK Images/ Neil Fletcher & Matthew Ward. 47b Photolibrary/Animals Animals/Er Degginger. 53t Marshall Editions. 102 Getty Images/Kaveh Kazemi. 89t Alamy/ Jochen Tack. 52 Shutterstock/David Dohnal. 84t Marshall Editions. 90b Shutterstock/Paul Prescott. 83 Corbis/Christine Osborne. 80t Photo Library/Guy Moberly. 32 NaturePL/Anup Shah. 92 background Shuttterstock/ Lemony. 17 NaturePL/Premaphotos. Maxwell. 68b Getty Images/China Photos. 77b Shutterstock/Bent G. Callow. Nordeng. 98 Shutterstock/Mountain Hardcore. 81l t&b Gard Karlsen. 94/95 background Shutterstock. 35b Corbis/ Patricia Fogden. 86bc NaturePL/Martin Dohrn. 13 NHPA/Mark Bowler. Alaska Fisheries Science Center. 46 Science Photo Library/Dr. 29 Photoshot/NHPA/Daniel Heuclin. 76b Science Photo Library/ Jacques Jangoux. 75t Rex Features/Finlayson/Newspix. 19b FLPA/ Larry West. 24 Getty Images/Yomiuri Shimbun. 107 Shutterstock/Hirlesteanu Constantin-Ciprian. 21 Science Photo Library/Karl H.
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