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10 Animals That Look Like Monsters

Panorpa communis -- in a less ferocious moment © Mark Johnson/Westend61/Corbis
Panorpa communis -- in a less ferocious moment © Mark Johnson/Westend61/Corbis

Our next monstrous critter would look right at home among the mix-and-match features of mythical monsters like the cockatrice, the griffon and the hippogriff. Its long reddish, body, yellow-and-black camo-patterned wings and mantis-like head would make it stand out in any crowd of insects, but it's the scorpion-like tail that makes you want to keep your distance from this omnivore.

But before you reach for your black light, antivenin and critter-stompin' shoes, you should know that scorpionflies, like the species Panorpa nuptialis that lives in the fields and meadows of the south-central U.S., measure a mere 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) long [source: CAS]. Also, these members of the order Mecoptera (from the Greek for "long wings") confine their diets to plant materials like pollen, nectar and the occasional deceased or debilitated insect.

As for that stinger, well, it's the scorpionfly's genitalia, which males also employ in mating displays (you know the type). That's good news for our nightmares, but we're unsure as to how the females feel about it. Maybe that's why males come a'courtin' with small food offerings or delectable salivary secretions. After all, the females could kill them on a whim [sources: Meyer; Tumlison; The Wildlife Trusts].

Hey, no one said lovin' was easy.