Human beings have vivid imaginations. All the conspiracy theories floating around out there at present are only one piece of proof of that. But for all the strange and outlandish things that people come up with, I’m not sure they can outdo Mother Nature.

Maybe because it’s Halloween season, there have been some pretty amazing, shocking, and almost unbelievable stories of natural occurrences posted online. I’m not a subscriber of the “if it’s on the internet, it must be true” philosophy. In fact, I’m a self-proclaimed researchaholic who likes to get to the bottom of things before I allow something to reside in my brain as my reality.

I say “my reality” because that includes not only facts, but opinions based on facts. But there’s no room for personal opinion about the reality of the following things that occur in nature. These are factual and fascinating.

Take the tongue-eating louse. This parasite enters the fish through its gills and devours the fish’s tongue. Then it attaches itself inside the fish’s mouth and proceeds to function as a tongue, all while living off the fish. They both can live like this for many years. Not only that, there are about 380 different species of these lice. The ocean is a scary place.

It would be helpful if I could post all of the photos of some of the things I found while researching the weird and wonderful. But use your imagination to picture the babirusa, an animal native to islands off the coast of Indonesia. This animal has a skull with teeth that defy explanation.

The babirusa, sometimes called deer pigs, have upper canine teeth that grow up and out of the upper jaw and curl back over their snouts. In some cases, as the teeth continue to grow, they actually pierce the skull, which can cause death. But only the males exhibit this extreme characteristic. What the heck, God?

Australia has no shortage of bizarre insects and plant life, but it also has a lake that looks like it was filled with not water, but Pepto Bismol. Yep, the water is just that pink. Scientists aren’t sure exactly what gives Lake Hillier its pink color, but there are several theories, most involving algae. However, the lake isn’t toxic and has a salinity level high enough to allow humans to float like bobbers. How fun!

We only need to travel as far as Alberta, Canada, to find lots of large frozen bubbles in Lake Abraham. What makes these bubbles remarkable is that they aren’t merely air bubbles. They’re filled with methane, produced when aquatic bacteria dine on leaves and animals. When the lake isn’t frozen, they rise to the surface and pop, releasing the gas. The gas is flammable. Imagine the possibilities…

Fractals occur everywhere in nature. Simply put, a fractal is a never-ending repeating pattern of varying sizes. This might not seem strange in and of itself, but the way fractals manifest themselves in real life can be. They also can have a particular beauty to them. Think of Romanescu broccoli or snowflakes.

I was surprised to learn that the term “fractal” didn’t exist before 1975, when famed mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot coined the word. Thanks to him, we don’t have to say “never-ending repeating pattern of varying sizes.” Whew.

You may be familiar with pitcher plants that have appendages that look like deep pockets open at the top. They’re designed to capture insects and small animals, which the plant consumes, making them carnivorous plants. But one species does this in a big way. Discovered in the Philippines in 2007, the rat-eating pitcher plant does just that – eats rats. Terrifying.

I’m not sure we as humans can ever one-up nature when it comes to the strange and wonderful, but you can bet we’ll continue to try. Perhaps we take inspiration from it.