Vampire origin story: How a real virus inspired the Halloween legend

Vampires were considered an actual danger in 18th century eastern Europe, but how did the myth come about? Science researcher Kathleen McAuliffe sheds new light on a famously murky legend.

Surprising Science

Perhaps the most iconic Halloween costume is that of the vampire. Its long black cape, shiny medallion, powdery complexion, and long, white fangs are the result of a legend that stretches hundreds of years back to eastern Europe. And its fangs in particular betray a similarity to bats and dogs — animal forms which the vampire was thought capable of taking on, explains science journalist Kathleen McAuliffe.

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Have a Threshold for Disgusting Things? Find Out – Because It Reveals a Lot About You

How easily grossed out are you? Your sensitivity to disgust reveals more about you than you'd probably be comfortable with, from how you'll vote in this election to your potential to be a cold-blooded killer.

Surprising Science

Who do you think has a stronger stomach: a liberal or a conservative? Who is the tougher party?

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The Cat Parasite Possibly Manipulating Your Behavior — And Other Parasitic Wonders

Parasites are more than dormant feeders. Microscopic science is uncovering the ways viruses and bacteria prey on their hosts, influencing them to behave in some very strange ways.

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Parasites are more than dormant feeders. Microscopic science continues to uncover the very active ways in which viruses and bacteria prey on their hosts, influencing them to behave in some very strange ways. Perhaps the most famous of these is the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which cats defecate and then rodents pick up from scavenging on the ground. Once inside the rodent, the parasite alters the animal's neurocircuitry such that it becomes sexually attracted to cats. Naturally it's existence proves short-lived from this point forward as the rodent actively courts its main predator. Once in the belly of the cat, the parasite is free to reproduce once more — its bizarre life cycle complete and ready to begin again.

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