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In honor of Halloween: Real-life things that go bump in the night

October 30, 2009 |  6:10 pm

Giant ratSome Halloween enthusiasts will spend our most ghoulish holiday celebrating fictional beasts (werewolves and the like) and famous, fictional freaks (classics like Frankenstein, newfangled ones like Pinhead). 

Those Halloween enthusiasts -- and we won't name any names -- are missing out.  Like the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction, and a number of animal oddities are actually far more creepy than anything Mary Shelley ever imagined or Hollywood ever dished out.  At right, for instance, meet one of the world's largest rats, weighing 3 pounds (sure, he looks docile in the hands of mammalogist Martua Sinaga, but we'd probably view him in a rather different light were we to meet him in a dark alley).  The creature was discovered in New Guinea's Foja mountain range.

Hungry (okay, poor choice of word) for more?  Check out The Times' photo gallery of odder-than-your-typical-ghoul members of the animal kingdom.  Spoiler alert: You'll find the big-mouthed and fanged Khorat frog; the so-called "hairy frog," which can poke the sharp bones in its toes through the skin to attack a predator; the prehensile pangolin, toothless but covered in razor-sharp scales; and the barreleye fish, whose transparent head contains tubular eyes that rotate to help it make the most of dim light deep below the surface of the ocean.

We've saved the best for last: The blue-eyed Vampyroteuthis infernalis, whose name translates to "vampire squid from hell."  You don't get much more rock 'n roll -- or more Halloween -- than that.

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-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Bruce M. Beehler / AFP/Getty Images

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