7 Terrifying Historical Figures

7 Terrifying Historical Figures

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1. Vlad The Impaler

Vlad III Dracula—better known by the gruesome moniker “Vlad the Impaler”—was a 15th-century ruler of Wallachia (now part of Romania) who became notorious for his rampant use of torture, mutilation and mass murder. Vlad’s military exploits saw him praised by many as a hero, but his unmatched cruelty and penchant for barbaric executions—often against his own people—contributed to his reputation as one of history’s most coldblooded leaders.

Vlad’s victims were supposedly killed through unspeakable means including disembowelment, beheading and even being skinned or boiled alive. Still, his preferred method was impalement, a grisly process in which the victim had a wooden stake slowly driven through their body before being left to die of exposure. After one famous military victory against the advancing Ottoman Turks, Vlad supposedly had around 20,000 men impaled on the banks of the Danube. When the second wave of invaders arrived, they are said to have immediately retreated upon seeing the grotesque “forest” of corpses. According to some accounts, Vlad enjoyed dining among the thousands of impaled bodies and would even dip his bread into the blood of his victims. This bizarre practice—along with the name “Dracula” and Vlad’s birthplace of Transylvania—would later partly inspire the vampire in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.”

2. Rasputin

Much of Grigori Rasputin’s life is shrouded in myth, but history paints the picture of a “mad monk” who steered Russia toward chaos. Rasputin began his career as a populist holy man and was known to preach a religious doctrine arguing that true salvation was only possible through indulgence in sin. His reputation as a faith healer eventually saw him summoned to the court of Czar Nicholas II, where he ingratiated himself to Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna after helping her hemophiliac son recover from an injury. By 1911 Rasputin had secured himself a place as the czarina’s closest advisor. He then began using his influence to appoint incompetent and crooked officials while also indulging in drink and perverse sexual appetites.

Rasputin had a con man’s charm and reportedly took delight in humiliating high society women by making them lick his dirty fingers after he had dipped them in soup. He was accused of raping a nun and known to consort with prostitutes by night even as he advised the czarina on state policy by day. Fearing that the wild-eyed sorcerer was leading Russia toward disaster, in 1916 a group of aristocratic conspirators poisoned him with cyanide. When the toxin failed to have its desired effect, the men reportedly shot him several times and then beat him before dumping his body into the freezing Neva River. Rasputin’s death ultimately came too late to save the royal family from public disgrace. The czar, the czarina and their five children were all murdered in 1918 during the Bolshevik Revolution.

3. H.H. Holmes

Born Herman W. Mudgett, the notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes spent his early career as an insurance scammer before moving to Illinois in advance of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It was there that Holmes built what he referred to as his “castle”—a three-story inn that he secretly turned into a macabre torture chamber. Some rooms were equipped with hidden peepholes, gas lines, trap doors and soundproofed padding, while others featured secret passages, ladders and hallways that led to dead ends. There was also a greased chute that led to the basement, where Holmes had installed a surgical table, a furnace and even a medieval rack.

Both before and during the World’s Fair, Holmes led many victims—mostly young women—to his lair only to asphyxiate them with poisoned gas and take them to his basement for horrific experiments. He then either disposed of the bodies in his furnace or skinned them and sold the skeletons to medical schools. Holmes was eventually convicted of the murders of four people, but he confessed to at least 27 more killings before being hanged in 1896. “Holmes’ Horror Castle” was later turned into a grotesque museum, but the building burned down before it could be opened.

4. Elizabeth Báthory

Often called the “Blood Countess,” Elizabeth Báthory was a Hungarian noblewoman who is widely considered to be history’s most deranged female serial killer. Throughout the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Báthory reportedly lured young peasants to her castle with promises of high-paying jobs as servants. Once trapped in the citadel, these victims were subject to unspeakable tortures. Some were beaten or stabbed with needles, while others were stripped naked and left to freeze in the snow. According to legend, Báthory even bathed in the blood of her virgin victims, believing it would keep her skin radiant and youthful.

Báthory allegedly massacred as many as 80 peasant girls—though the number may be as high as 600—but it was only when she turned her attention to young noblewomen that she was finally stopped. In 1611 she was bricked up inside her castle chambers with only a small opening for food. She would die four years later in 1614. Some historians have since argued that Báthory was framed by political enemies. While this claim is disputed, there is little doubt that her reputation has become thoroughly intertwined with myth and legend. Along with Vlad the Impaler, she is said to be one of the historical influences behind Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.”

5. Jack the Ripper

In 1888, London’s Whitechapel district was gripped by reports of a vicious serial killer stalking the city streets. The unidentified madman was known to lure prostitutes into darkened squares and side streets before slitting their throats and sadistically mutilating their bodies with a carving knife. Between August and November, five streetwalkers were found butchered in the downtrodden east end district, sparking a media frenzy and citywide manhunt. While he was originally known simply as the Whitechapel murderer, the killer soon earned a chilling new moniker: Jack the Ripper.

Without modern forensic techniques, Victorian police were at a loss in investigating the Ripper’s heinous crimes. Eyewitness testimonies were often contradictory, and after taking his final victim on November 9 the killer seemed to disappear like a ghost. The case was finally closed in 1892, but Jack the Ripper has remained an enduring source of fascination. The most popular theories suggest that the killer’s understanding of anatomy and vivisection mean he was possibly a butcher or a surgeon. Over 100 possible suspects have been proposed, and the term “Ripperology” has even been coined to describe the extensive study the case receives.

6. Gilles de Rais

Gilles de Rais was a 15th-century French nobleman, soldier and companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years’ War. Rais’ military career earned him many plaudits, but his distinguished reputation and opulent lifestyle hid a horrific dark side that included charges of Satanism, rape and murder. Beginning in the 1430s, Rais reportedly began torturing and brutally killing young children, many of them peasant boys who had come to his castle to work as pages. After sexually molesting these servants, Rais would murder them by cutting their throats or breaking their necks with a club. Others were decapitated and dismembered, and Rais was even known to kiss the severed heads of some of his victims.

Rais indulged in these sadistic habits unchecked until 1440, when he attacked a priest over a land dispute. This drew the ire of the church, which launched an investigation and soon uncovered the baron’s history of depravity. A famous trial ensued in which Rais was charged with murder and sodomy and accused of practicing alchemy and other satanic rites. He eventually confessed under torture to having murdered as many as 140 children—though some have claimed the number may be much higher—and was hanged to death and then burned in October 1440. Some historians have since suggested that Rais was the influence for the 17th-century folktale “Bluebeard,” which follows a wealthy baron who murders his young wives.

7. Tomás de Torquemada

From 1483 to 1498, Tomás de Torquemada presided over the Spanish Inquisition, the notorious Catholic tribunal used to try heretics and nonbelievers. In order to force their confession, these victims were subjected to gruesome punishments including strangulation or being stretched on the rack. Others were waterboarded or put through strappado, a grueling torture in which subjects were hanged by their wrists until their arms dislocated.

A Franciscan monk, Torquemada was the man responsible for reorganizing the Inquisition and expanding its scope to include crimes like blasphemy, usury and even sorcery. Torquemada also ordered the expulsion of thousands of Jews, Muslims and blacks, all of whom he believed would taint the spiritual purity of Spain. Those that converted to Christianity were allowed to remain but risked being tortured or executed if they tried to practice their faith in secret. All told, some 2,000 people were murdered during Torquemada’s reign as Grand Inquisitor, most of them beheaded or burned at the stake.

When fascist Italy aligned itself with the Nazis, few embraced the alliance more than Pietro Caruso. He was the police chief of Rome and responsible for upholding law and order. However, he ended up doing the exact opposite.

Caruso was a loyal bloodhound of Mussolini. Together with Herbert Kappler, the Gestapo commander of Rome, he participated in many horrors and gleefully pursued Mussolini&rsquos enemies. His greatest atrocity was the mass execution of Fosse Andeatine in 1944: In just one day, he gathered over 300 people in front of Nazi rifles. Caruso was especially famous for his sadism&mdasha notable achievement during a time when bloodthirsty Nazis freely roamed the country.

After the war, Caruso was put on trial for his crimes. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad. But he almost didn&rsquot make it to his own execution: The furious Romans stormed his guard before the shooting and attempted to drown him in the Tiber River.

7 Real-Life Events That Were More Terrifying Than Any Horror Movie

There’s a reason why so many horror movies claim to be based on actual events. Reality can be scary as hell, and it’s often weirder and more nightmare-inducing than anything on the big screen. Here are seven events that sound like the plots of some terrifying horror movies—except they’re much more disturbing. Because they’re completely true.

1) The Watcher Letters

You may remember this eerie tale, because it’s recent and it was very highly publicized . A New Jersey family sued the previous owners of their home after they received three disturbing letters from someone who called him or herself “the Watcher,” who was fixated on the 1905 Colonial-style home and its new occupants. The unidentified letter-writer certainly had a spectacularly creepy way with words, referring to Derek and Maria Broaddus’ three children as “the young blood you have brought to me,” and asking things like, “Have they found out what’s in the walls yet?” (You can read the entire lawsuit, which is filled with nightmare material, here .)

The lawsuit, which is still in court, was filed after the Broaddus family abandoned the house, fearing for their safety. Its basis is that the previous owners knew about “the Watcher,” but didn’t bother to warn them ahead of time. The house was put up for sale in February 2015, but the listing was removed once the story began receiving media attention.

Last month, the Broaddus family made a bold move, according to NJ.com . Since nobody wants to pay a million bucks for a house that has such a strong stigma attached to it, they applied for a planning board permit to tear the house down and replace it with two new dwellings. It’s one way to assuage their financial burden while their suit is still in court, and as a bonus, it’s a tidy FU to the stalker, too.

2) The Russian Grave Robber

In this case, a photo—even a kinda blurry one—says a lot.

This is just one of 29 “dolls” made from mummified female corpses recovered from the home of 45-year-old Anatoly Moskvin, described by the BBC as a “ local historian and cemetery explorer ” in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. Each human doll was carefully dressed, with the hands and face covered in cloth. Some were perched on furniture others on shelves. One body had been made to look like a teddy bear, with a stuffed animal head atop the neck.

The Mirror, which reports that the bodies were of girls ages three to twelve, pilfered from dozens of dug-up graves, claims that Moskvin had a specific purpose in mind while assembling his collection :

Moskvin, who speaks 13 languages and was described by some as ‘a genius’, also gave the mummified corpses names and organised birthday parties for them. Moskvin also compiled up-to-date information about the lives of each girl he had dug up and printed off instructions on a computer for how to produce dolls out of human remains.

His grisly activities were apparently discovered when his parents paid him a surprise visit though he was arrested in 2011, he was deemed unfit to stand trial.

3) The Spooky House Incident

In August 2006, just before the start of their senior year in high school, a group of girls were driving around their hometown of Worthington, Ohio. The boring night was suddenly filled with exciting potential when they decided to cruise by what the local kids called the “spooky house,” a run-down dwelling with an overgrown yard that was perfectly situated across the street from a cemetery. The teens thought it was abandoned. They were, unfortunately, quite mistaken.

It wasn’t the first time 41-year-old Allen S. Davis, a recluse who lived in the house with his elderly mother, had been beset by unwanted guests he’d thwarted a couple of break-ins in 2006. He had a rifle as protection, and when he heard the girls outside, he figured he’d fire off some warning shots, since it had worked before. But this time, a wayward bullet struck 17-year-old Rachel Barezinsky in the head.

Miraculously, she survived, and the ensuing case divided the community. Some people believed Davis was likely mentally ill, but still acting within his rights to protect his property. But as Fox News reported in 2007 :

Police determined the girls were not trespassing because they had not gone far enough onto the property and no clearly visible signs had been posted.

Davis said in jailhouse interviews that he did not intend to hurt anyone. He eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of felonious assault to avoid a drawn-out probe into his personal life.

In 2009, Davis’ mother died in the home while her son was in prison serving his 19-year sentence. In 2013, Barezinsky’s family said that the young woman was “90 percent recovered” from her injuries. That same year, the “spooky house” was purchased at auction by new owners who were determined to completely renovate the place. A Google Earth search proves they did an amazing job, though there’s no hiding that view of the cemetery.

4) The Chowchilla School Bus Kidnapping

In July 1976, 26 kids ages 5-14 were on their yellow bus, heading home from their second-to-last day of summer school in Chowchilla, California. The mood was festive until an apparently broken-down van blocked the road, and masked men with guns burst through the front door of the bus. The children and their driver were soon herded into a pair of vans and driven around for 11 hours in stifling heat, eventually stopping at a rock quarry near Livermore—some 100 miles north of Chowchilla.

The ordeal only got stranger and scarier from there. In a 2015 look back at the case , CNN spoke to a number of the kidnapping victims, including Lynda Carrejo Labendeira, who was in fourth grade at the time.

The kidnappers asked each child his or her name, age, address and phone number. They also took a piece of clothing or a belonging from each student.

But the gunmen never explained why they were abducting the children.

“I only recall them ever telling us to shut up and be quiet,” Carrejo Labendeira said.

With only some construction lights illuminating the dark quarry, the kidnappers ordered the children and bus driver into what looked like a massive grave — a moving van hidden underground.

“It was buried into the earth. It was like a tomb,” Carrejo Labendeira said. “It was like a coffin. It was like a giant coffin for all of us.”

Each hostage had to descend a ladder into the back of the hidden vehicle, which had been transformed into a crude holding pen for the group. There was minimal food, and no ventilation. After 16 hours , the only adult present, driver Edward Ray, and some of the older kids came up with a plan, stacking mattresses as high as they’d go, shoving through a metal plate on the roof of the van, and digging their way to freedom.

The kidnappers, who snoozed through the escape, weren’t hard to track down one of them was the son of the man who owned the quarry. All three men hailed from wealthy families, so their motive for the crime—a $5 million ransom that they never got to demand, since the Chowchilla police were taking so many calls from the frantic parents of the schoolchildren—remains somewhat baffling. (Their attorney explained it as, “ They’re greedy .”)

Two of the kidnappers have since been paroled the third, who’s had a tumultuous time behind bars , is next eligible in 2018. Survivor Jennifer Brown Hyde was just nine years old in 1976 last year, she told CNN that the experience still haunts her.

“It’s not normal for someone who’s almost 50 years old to be afraid of the dark,” Brown Hyde said.

Until recently, she had to sleep with a nightlight on. And she still has chronic nightmares.

“The types of nightmares I have, I was prepared to die,” she said. “I actually had nightmares where somebody killed me . I saw myself at my own funeral.”

5) Albert Fish’s Letter

Albert Fish was a child molester, torturer (he had a set of what he referred to as “implements of Hell,” including a meat cleaver), serial killer, shit fetishist, cannibal, and self-mutilator. But he had one more nasty trait that elevated him from mere monster to something even worse: his urge to gloat. Witness the obscene anonymous letter he penned to the mother of his last known victim, 10-year-old Grace Budd.

It’s addressed to “My Dear Mrs. Budd” and that’s the only polite thing about it. Here’s the worst, most gruesome part (and you seriously may want to skip reading it):

On Sunday June the 3 — 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese — strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her. On the pretense of taking her to a party. You said Yes she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in the closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma. First I stripped her naked. How did she kick — bite and scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take the meat to my rooms. Cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did NOT fuck her tho I could have had I wished. She died a VIRGIN.”

Shudder. Police were able to trace the letterhead used by Fish to send this toxic missive, leading to his arrest. He confessed, and in 1936 he was executed in “Old Sparky” at New York’s Sing Sing prison.

6) The Porthole Murder

Cruise ship deaths make headlines with disturbing frequency. One of the very first to achieve notoriety was the murder of English actress Eileen Gibson, also known by her stage name, Gay Gibson. In 1947, the 21-year-old was heading back to England from South Africa aboard the Durban Castle, fresh off her appearance in a production of the Clifford Odets play Golden Boy.

6 Giant River stingray

Stingrays have already solidified their place in the annals of terror by doing what so many bigger and more venomous animals had failed to do in the past: kill Steve Irwin. But there is one out there that probably would have kept the Crocodile Hunter out of the water altogether.

We're sorry to inform you that that is in no way Photoshopped or modified, and is, in fact, a 16-foot long stingray. It seems Mother Nature was both lazy and malicious when she sculpted what is basically a king-sized bedsheet, and and then put a 15-inch serrated poison spike on its ass. That barb, by the way, has been known to impale body parts, sometimes skewering them completely and even penetrating bone.

The giant river stingray is an abomination faxed directly to us from the Jurassic era, 100 million years ago. See? We don't need a team of God-playing scientists to bring horrors back from the Jurassic, they are already here.

Thailand, New Guinea, Borneo and, surprise surprise, Australia. They live exclusively in rivers in a part of the world where rivers are uniformly murky, making these giant poisonous fish invisible as well. As if you really needed another reason to avoid the Southern Hemisphere.

Related: Photos Of The Past That Look Like Trippy Fantasy

11 The Kafka Museum Entrance -- Prague

Prague clearly wanted the museum for its greatest author, Franz Kafka, to be something special. Which is why we have the above sculpture in the courtyard. If you think it looks like they're pissing a pool in the shape of the Czech Republic, a simple look closer .

. says that's exactly what you're looking at.

This is the work of David Cerny, an artist hailed by half his peers as a controversial genius and scorned by the other half as an utter dickhole. This won't be his only stop on this list.

The statues' dongs are robotic, so they actually move. They piss shapes in the water, and you can also make them piss a phrase of your own by sending an SMS to a pay number. And Cerny got someone to agree to that. And by the way, this was not even his most ridiculous penis-related project. He was once very, very close to being able to make the Czech National Theatre look like this:

That piece was going to be called "Nation to Itself Forever," a 30-foot golden man ejaculating steam at random intervals. It unfortunately got canceled just prior to installation, which we assume means Cerny was forced to pay up on a bet he made to another artist years ago about just how much shit he could get away with before someone stopped writing him checks.

Fortunately, this is not Prague's only artistic tribute to Kafka. There's also this .

Related: Throwing Politicians Out Of Windows: A Prague Historical Tradition

4 The Tomb of the Sunken Skulls

In 2009, archaeologists were excavating the bottom of a prehistoric dry lake bed in Motala, Sweden, when they stumbled upon the foundations of a mysterious stone structure . sealed at the bottom of an ancient friggin' lake. Rather than turning tail and running away so fast their legs spun uselessly in the air for a few minutes like a Scooby-Doo cartoon, the stupidly brave scientists started digging. They eventually unearthed the exact kind of stuff one expects from primitive mystery structures: animal bones, stone tools and, oh yeah -- the 8,000-year-old skulls of 10 people, ranging in age from small children to the elderly.

And then they found an 11th skull buried deep within the ancient mud of the lake bottom.

And then they found fragments of one of the other skulls . deliberately lodged inside the cranium of the 11th skull.

Let's recap: For reasons that are unclear to us, some ancient society probably butchered 11 people in a stone hut at the bottom of a lake bed, and then put the pieces of one dead person's skull inside the brain space of another person, like the world's most godawfully horrifying nesting doll.

But the horror doesn't end there: Not only had somebody perhaps bashed one person's skull in with another person's skull, but, before being interred inside the tomb, several of the bodies had stakes driven through them and were then set alight. This didn't take careful deduction on the part of the excavators to discover: Two of the skulls were found with the stakes still embedded (and in one case, entirely melded with) them.

The official theories are all over the map, from bizarre funeral practices to a group of warriors mounting the skulls of their defeated opponents as war trophies. But we think differently: Maybe the mysterious prehistoric men who put the bones there in the first place were the good guys, just trying to put down an ancient vampire infestation.

By uh . by beating the vampires to death with the skulls of their loved ones, we guess? That's one of their weaknesses, right? Garlic, sunlight, holy water, being walloped upside the head with their own brother's severed head. You know: usual canon stuff.

Related: A Short Strange History Of The Real Skulls Used In 'Hamlet'

7 terrifying sinkhole disasters

AP Photo/Courtesy Golfmanna

Sinkholes appear to be frighteningly instantaneous — one moment you're on the 14th hole at a golf course in Waterloo, Ill., and the next moment you're 18 feet below the ground. But technically, sinkholes develop over time in subterranean areas that can't drain properly. A buildup of water slowly dissolves rock, creating caverns that eventually break the surface, sometimes in a horrifically dramatic way. Luckily, the golfer in this case, Mark Mihal, survived his surprising plummet, and friends managed to hoist him to safety with a rope within 20 minutes. But other people, residences, and major city thoroughfares haven't been so lucky. Let's take a trip down memory hole lane.

1. The Florida sinkhole that swallowed a man: Jeff Bush, a 37-year-old husband and father, was in his Florida bedroom on Feb. 28 when the Earth opened up, swallowing him and everything in his room whole. The expansive hole was about 20 feet wide, and had been almost completely hidden by the house as it grew and shifted. The five other people in the home escaped unharmed. Jeremy Bush tried to save his brother by jumping into the hole, but then had to be rescued himself. Three days later, the search for Bush's body was called off, as the ground was considered too unstable and dangerous to continue. The house (see it above) was razed, and nearby homes were evacuated. "There's hardly a place in Florida that's immune to sinkholes, says Sandy Nettles, a geology consultant in Tampa. "There's no way of ever predicting where a sinkhole is going to occur." (Edward Linsmier/Getty Images)

2. The Guatemalan sinkhole 30 stories deep: On May 30, 2010, a massive sinkhole "crashed into being" in Guatemala City, Guatemala, killing at least one man and swallowing an entire three-story building. The hole, which measured about 60 feet wide and 30 stories deep, may have been months or even years in the making. But experts suspect Tropical Storm Agatha, which swept through the country and dumped more than 3 feet of rain water, was likely the final trigger. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

3. The Texas tar pit: Daisetta, Texas, has the unfortunate geological distinction of sitting on top of a salt dome. And that likely caused sinkholes in 1969, 1981, and, most recently, in 2008. The latest opening started off modestly enough, at just 20 feet wide. But throughout the day, the phenomenon appeared to have an unsatiable appetite for land, growing to about 900 feet across and 260 feet deep. Nearby residents watched as the ravenous sinkhole consumed oil field equipment, trees, and vehicles — creating what looked to be a menacing tar pit thanks to the mixture oil and mud at its center. Luckily, the sinkhole eventually stabilized, and no one was injured. (AP Photo/The Beaumont Enterprise, Dave Ryan)

4. Oklahoma's sinking ghost town: Located in the northeastern corner of the state, Picher, Okla., was once the most productive lead and zinc mining field in the area. Nearly a century later, it's a ghost town. All that mining severely damaged the town's geology, rendering it unlivable due to the plethora of sinkholes, like this one (pictured in 2008), as well as lead-laced mountains or rock and tainted water. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

5. The hurricanes' wrath: 2004 was a rough year for the people of Deltona, Fla. They suffered through three of the state's four hurricanes. And then in December, a sinkhole opened up, swallowing a busy four-lane thoroughfare and threatening the surrounding residential area. Within moments of appearing on Dec. 13, the sinkhole consumed trees, chunks of sidewalk, a utility pole, and blinking roadside sign. Growing to at least 225 feet wide and 50 feet deep, the cavern, brought on by the storms, was one of the largest to appear in central Florida in decades. (AP Photo/Barbara V. Perez)

6. Severing San Diego: After an underground pipe ruptured on Feb. 23, 1998, a hole opened up just west of Interstate 15, severing at least two major roads and crippling local businesses. It was dark and raining when the hole first appeared, and one commuter drove his Honda right into the ditch. He managed to escape unscathed, though his car did not, and he was able to warn other oncoming motorists about the hole, helping two women to narrowly escape the same fate, jumping from their pickup truck moments before it fell into the hole. The thoroughfare was closed for at least five months, forcing some 30,000 motorists through lengthy detours. (REUTERS)

7. Breaking the city bank: In 1995, a heavy rainstorm broke down the soil under a 100-year-old brick sewer in San Francisco, causing the sewer, which was under reconstruction at the time, to rupture. Then a massive sinkhole measuring 240 feet long, 150 feet wide, and more than 40 feet deep consumed a mansion and damaged nearby homes in the city's upscale Seacliff district. While no one was hurt, the city took a huge financial hit in repairs, cleanup, and claims by adjacent property owners. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)

2 Sperm 20 Times the Size of the Creature it Comes From

Wait, why is a fruit fly on this list? We have giant predators ripped from the terror center of the brain, and we're including the little bastards you have to shoo away from your bananas? Well, it's not the fruit fly that's terrifyingly huge. Let's just say the fly is packing some serious heat in the downstairs region.

We really can't figure out a way to make it sound less weird so we'll just say it: It has giant sperm. This next image is in no way edited or Photoshopped -- it's a scale picture. Fly in the center, its sperm looped around it:

Now the fact that somewhere out there is a creature that has to force out a sperm many times as long as its body is terrifying in itself. But we're just scratching the surface.

After all, you figure that surely the female must be a huge hulking example of the species to even be able to fit a sperm longer than the freaking male of the species inside of . oh we can't even finish this sentence it's just too weird. Show the damn picture.

Just what -- that . holy crap, how does that even . wait . it's longer than the female too so that must mean. the female of the species has an equally as long and terrifying reproductive tract. So all you guys and ladies reading this, just imagine being a fruit fly and consider that a six-foot-tall male would have a sperm 120-feet long. If your brain has rightly prevented that image from entering your mind, take a look here.

Related: 5 Underwater Creatures That Look Like Terrifying Nightmares

10 Notable People Thought To Be Immortal

Death is terrifying to most people. For many, the idea of living forever and attaining immortality is a much better alternative than death. This list includes ten human beings declared to be immortal during their life (and sometimes after&mdashdespite death) and as with every story of mystery, myth and legend gets mixed with facts and history, making things even more complicated for us.

Common sense tells us that everything dies. But rather than face that dark truth, humankind continues to believe in alternative sources of infinite life and these ten stories are no exception to this rule.

The stories of the Three Nephites comprise one of the most striking religious legends in the United States. Bearing some resemblance to stories of the prophet Elijah in Jewish lore, or of the Christian saints in the Catholic tradition, the Three Nephite accounts are nevertheless distinctly Mormon. The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as Mormons, believe that Jesus Christ visited America after his resurrection and chose 12 apostles from among an ancient group of people there called the Nephites to help spread his Gospel message in the new world. Three of those apostles asked Jesus to change them from human beings into angels and let them remain on Earth until the end of the world so they could help people in need wherever they traveled on the planet, according to the Book of Mormon. Those three translated beings (people who have become angels) are known as the Three Nephites, and stories about their appearances have become a popular part of Mormon lore.

In Greek mythology, Memnon was an Ethiopian king (probably the most popular figure of African heritage in Greek mythology) and son of Tithonus and Eos. During his life he was thought to be an immortal, while as a warrior he was considered to be inferior only to Achilles. At the Trojan War, he brought an army to Troy&rsquos defense but he was killed by Achilles in retribution for killing Antilochus. The death of Memnon echoes that of Hector, another defender of Troy whom Achilles also killed out of revenge for a fallen comrade, Patroclus. Memnon&rsquos death is related at length in the lost epic Aethiopis, composed after The Iliad around the 7th century B.C. Quintus of Smyrna records Memnon&rsquos death in Posthomerica. His death is also described in Philostratus&rsquo Imagines. Memnon&rsquos story might not be very popular, but it&rsquos definitely one of the most intense to read if the chance is given.

Leonard Jones wasn&rsquot an immortal of course and he knew it very well. He was not a very successful politician either, but like most politicians he had the power of convincing others. No matter how unbelievable it might sound to us now, the fact is that he ran his political campaign on the platform of his immortality, and what&rsquos even more odd is that he convinced a lot of people who subsequently voted for him.

The eccentric American who was born in Kentucky in 1797, repeatedly ran for President of the United States and Governor of Kentucky, citing his self-proclaimed immortality as his main political argument. According to Mr. Jones immortality could be achieved through prayer and fasting. He obviously didn&rsquot do enough of these two, because he died from Pneumonia on August 30, 1868 at the young age (for an immortal) of 71.

Most people think of Merlin as an elderly man with a long white beard and a tall pointed hat, who was a magician at the court of King Arthur. But the question is, did he really exist? His father according to legend was an incubus, a demon in male form, who had sexual intercourse with his mortal mother. Merlin was an infamous immortal, who has appeared in various folklore, fairy tales and films. The eternally ancient warlock originates in Old English history, and is most popularly associated with King Arthur, the Lady of the Lake and the Knights of the Round Table. Some fans, even to this day believe that as an immortal he&rsquos still around and protects the royal family of England. As every mythical human figure, Merlin the man behind the myth, probably existed, but like so many other &ldquoimmortals&rdquo before and after him, he probably died too.

Many historians today would agree that Achilles existed and Homer just exaggerated his warrior-skills and accomplishments. Most scholars nowadays believe that Troy itself was no imaginary Shangri-la but a real city, and that the Trojan War indeed happened. Archaeologists who have been digging into the myth of Homer&rsquos poem, believe the legendary war may have been a process rather than a single event and most (if not all) figures mentioned by Homer, indeed existed.

Back to our topic, according to the myths, Achilles was dipped into the river Styx as a baby by his mother to gain impenetrable skin against any weapons, so he was practically invincible . . . Until the moment that Paris decided to poison his heel, which his mother held onto him by. It is generally believed that Achilles was shot in the heel with an arrow and the tendon of the heel has become known as Achilles Tendon and the term Achilles&rsquo Heel has become a metaphor for vulnerability of any sort, after the story of the great epic warrior.

If you&rsquore into mysteries, magic and adventures, then you should definitely check out the story of Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher&rsquos Stone, Nicholas Flamel is featured as the creator of the &ldquoPhilosopher&rsquos Stone.&rdquo Because this stone allows its owner to live forever, it must be protected from falling into the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort.

Although Harry Potter is fictional, Frenchman Nicolas Flamel lived during the late 14th and early 15th centuries. A scholar and scribe, Flamel devoted his life to understanding the text of a mysterious book filled with encoded alchemical symbols that some believed held the secrets of the Philosopher&rsquos Stone. Many myths surround Flamel, including the belief that he successfully created the Stone. His death in 1417 didn&rsquot hurt that myth, and his quest for the Philosopher&rsquos Stone lives on in his writings. Although modern scholarship has cast doubt on the authenticity of alchemical texts ascribed to him, he remains an important figure in the alchemical world.

As Christ was carrying His cross to Golgotha, He stopped for a moment to rest outside the house of a shoemaker named Ahasuerus. When Ahasuerus saw this, he jeered at the Savior, asking Him why He was dallying. Christ then looked at Ahasuerus and pronounced the curse: &ldquoI will stand here and rest, but you must wander the Earth until I return&rdquo. The Wandering Jew many centuries later would become a very popular figure all over the medieval Christian world that spread widely in Europe in the thirteenth century and became a fixture of Christian mythology and literature. The legend of the wandering Jew is founded in part on Jesus&rsquo words given in Matthew 16:28: &ldquoVerily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.&rdquo The story has endless variations. Sometimes Ahasuerus is an old man sometimes he remains forever young sometimes he ages and then returns to youth. Ahasuerus is condemned to remember all his past lives according to the myth, but for some reason I tend to believe that the real person Ahasuerus lived only one life and he has been long gone since then.

Enigmatic and attractive, the young count&rsquos skin seemed not to have experienced the passage of time. He used to move from one place to another every moment, taking with him the great secret of his personality, as captivating as it was mysterious. Myths, legends and speculations about St. Germain began to be widespread in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and continue today. They include beliefs that he is immortal, the Wandering Jew, an alchemist with the &ldquoElixir of Life&rdquo, and that he prophesied the French Revolution. The Count of St. Germain has been variously described as a courtier, adventurer, charlatan, inventor, alchemist, pianist, violinist and amateur composer, but his story remains one of the biggest mysteries to this day.

After a charmed life of meeting leaders and dignitaries from around the globe, in 1779 the mysterious count arrived in Eckenförde, Germany, where&mdashaccording to some official records&mdashhe passed away in his residence there in the year 1784 however, there is no tombstone in that town bearing his name. Almost 200 years after his death, Richard Chanfray, a French magician and singer claimed to be the Count of St. Germain, but unfortunately he died too.

Heracles&rsquo story is one of the most famous around the world. No other individual has achieved so much glory on a universal level, for so many centuries. The stories and labors of Heracles, a man who was so strong and courageous, whose deeds were so mighty, and who so endured all the hardships that were given to him, eventually and according to the legend made him an immortal (metaphorically for sure).

Was there a real Heracles, a man behind these stories? We can&rsquot know for sure. The only certain thing is that just like with the discovery of the city of Troy, archaeologists, fired up the curiosity of historians and the imagination of people around the world, when in 2010 they claimed that evidences showed that the tomb they found in the state of Peloponnese, could be the one of the great mythical hero. The only certain thing is that Heracles, the man who probably existed behind the myth, never achieved real immortality of course, but he managed to become the most famous hero of ancient times and probably the most beloved one too. More stories have been told about him than any other hero and his name has indeed remained immortal in time.

Qin Shi Huang, the founder of the Qin dynasty, is until this day best remembered as the person who gave China a face. His marvelous construction of the Great Wall and the famous Terra cotta Army are both known to everyone in the world. He was one of the most significant Chinese emperors, shaping the country&rsquos history and culture. The people around him, heavily influenced by his great accomplishments started to believe that he was immortal and he tried to make it come true.

According to legend, in his search for eternal life, Qin Shihuang sent one of his servants to find the secret of immortality. The servant, Xu Fudong set sail eastward with thousands of young boys and girls. They never returned to China, perhaps because they feared punishment for failing the mission. Legend says that they found and populated the island we now know as Japan. Qin Shihuang died at the age of 50 in 210 B.C. He died of a quick and lethal disease and proved to his dedicated followers that he was as mortal as every other human being.

Theodoros II is a collector of experiences and a law graduate. He loves History, Sci-Fi culture, European politics, and exploring the worlds of hidden knowledge. His ideal trip in an alternative world would be to the lost city of Atlantis. His biggest passions include writing, photography, and music. You can view his photostream here.

History's 7 Most Bizarre Beauty Trends

There are definitely some peculiar beauty trends out there in 2015, such as "tattooths" and "toe-besity surgery," arguably stemming from the era's obsession with body modifications and losing weight. By revealing what the people of their time found aesthetically and socially valuable, weird beauty trends throughout history help us better understand changing social climates. But they're also just plain fun to learn about, and often inducing of a chuckle or two.

Imagining women covering their teeth in black lacquer (like the Japanese circa the Meiji Era) or plucking out every last eyelash and brow hair to accentuate the forehead (I guess the ladies of the Middle Ages hadn't heard of contouring), shows just how constantly-evolving the world of beauty actually is. One day, I'm sure my penchant towards winged eyeliner and a bold purple lip will be viewed as strange and archaic as well.

Of course, it's arguably important to embrace beauty as an act of body positivity, creativity, and agency. But these extreme techniques remind us that the history of the beauty routine is pretty sexist and body negative.

Check out some of these weird beauty trends throughout history. Some are pretty rad, while others are just out of this world bizarre.

1. Unibrows Made Of Goat's Hair

As we all know, the beautiful Frida Kahlo rocked the hell out of her unibrow. However, it was a popular beauty trend long before her existence. According to the New York Times, the ancient Greeks valued the beauty of a unibrow as it became known to signify intelligence and beauty in women. Women who didn't have unibrows would even connect their brows with kohl or dark powder. According to Mental Floss, some actually fashioned false brows out of goat's hair and tree resin!

2. Accentuated Veins Á La Marie Antoinette

During pre-revolution era France, pale skin was all the rage thanks to trendsetters like Marie Antoinette. With pale skin, however, often come more noticeable veins (something feminine people of today's society don't necessarily appreciate), and they were coveted just as much by women of this time. So much so that they would often color in their veins with blue pencil to highlight their vascular features, according to BuzzFeed.

3. Removing Eyelashes In The Middle Ages

Today, many of us do whatever we can to have the fullest and longest set of lashes around, whether that be using mascara that promises volume or conditioning treatments for growth and enhancement. However, it hasn't always been this way. During the Middle Ages, the forehead was considered the sexiest part of a woman's face. According to Marie Claire, women often removed most or all of their eyelashes (and eyebrows as well!) to accentuate this part of their faces. This is one wild look that I don't think I would ever have the strength to get behind honestly.

4. DIY Blush In The Victorian Era

England in the Victorian era did not see very much makeup thanks to the Queen, who condemned it as a practice limited to actors and prostitutes. To make up for the lack of rogue, women of this time had to get super DIY. According to Into The Gloss, they would privately bite their lips and pinch their cheeks to create a rosy glow on the face and mouth before meeting suitors. Based on my (albeit brief) attempts at this look, the ladies must have been biting and pinching pretty damn hard and for longer periods of time to achieve it. Beauty is pain, I guess.

5. Black Teeth

In a world where white teeth are embraced and every other toothpaste on the market seems to have some kind of whitening agent inside it, it's interesting to consider the Japanese beauty trend Ohaguro, popular in the Meiji era. Ohaguro refers to black lacquered teeth, which can be achieved by drinking "an iron-based black dye tempered with cinnamon and other aromatic spices," according to popular blog Stuff Mom Never Told You. This practice was banned in the 1870s when the empress of Japan daringly rocked white teeth as a move toward modernization. Fun facts: Blackened teeth held up better than untreated ones (rad!), and the darkened smiles symbolized women's submission to men (gross).

6. The Dead White Look

Humans of the 18th century (as well as centuries before then) were huge fans of a pale face. However, the way in which they achieved it was pretty sketchy. Using a mixture involving white lead and vinegar, people would powder their faces as makeup and as a whitening agent. According to NBC News, the white lead would also even out the skin and erase freckles. Sometimes, they'd top it off with a bit of red lead for a rosy glow.

However, this heavy duty stuff was not made for faces, and would eventually break down the skin and cause scarring as well as illness. At least they looked just the perfect amount of ghostly, I suppose, considering this look could come with deadly consequences.

7. A Perfect Complexion Thanks To Arsenic

Once using lead for the complexion came to an end, eating arsenic for the purpose of beauty became all the rage (I guess that seemed safer?). This product, which we know to be deadly, also helps in evening out complexion and whitening the skin. According to New York Magazine, "They could also make you go bald. To add insult to injury, if you stopped taking them abruptly, it would cause your complexion to go haywire, thus incentivizing you to keep taking them." Sears even sold Arsenic Wafers in 1902, according to Mental Floss.

Watch the video: 7 terrifying historical figures