The ghosts, guts, and gore of science

If you like your scary stories backed by a rigorous scientific methodology, this reading list is for you.

The epidemiology of zombies

When the zombie apocalypse finally arrives (we are pretty sure it will), epidemiologists are going to have their hands full figuring out how the disease will spread and who is at most immediate risk. Fortunately, some researchers like to plan ahead. They’ve already created a model:


The ghost-hunter’s guide

If you welcome the spooky and want to go out in search of some ghostly activity, these cultural geographers have your back. Their guide is designed for researchers in the social sciences and humanities, but you don’t need a degree to get shivers down your spine.


Some scary research isn’t just ghosts-and-goblins gruesome, it’s actually gruesome. The studies below detail real-life injuries and attacks. Warning: some of them contain graphic images.

A corpse in the woods

On June 17, 2006, a 42-year-old Finnish man went jogging at night. When he didn’t come home, his wife called the police to report him missing. Three hours later, they found his body on a trail, mauled by one of the largest land carnivores alive today: the brown bear. Bear attacks are rare in Finland. Forensics researchers published this report of the incident:


Feast of the bats

In 1992, residents of Payapal, a small gold-mining village in southeastern Venezuela, began waking up to bite marks on their bodies and blood on their sheets. Vampire bats living in nearby caves had descended on the village, feeding off 145 residents over the course of four months. Fortunately, health officials were able to administer the appropriate vaccines and get the bat population under control, ending the outbreak and reducing mysterious bites to a few isolated incidents.


The carnivorous donkey

Not all attacks come from animals with such scary reputations. A 65-year-old farmer was found dead in his farmyard with a very deep wound on his neck. The cause of death was massive bleeding combined with asphyxia from the blood. The culprit? A donkey, standing near the corpse with a bloodstained lip. Donkeys are usually very docile, but can become aggressive and dangerous during mating season.


Featured image courtesy of Scott Norris.