Many of us appreciate the tremors evoked by coming into contact with that one special trigger animal, that mammal, reptile, insect, or winged thing that gives us more than goosebumps, that creates adrenaline-fueled fear in our hearts. New data, emerging from Czechoslovakia suggests that there about two dozen beasts that score high in creating fear in humans. Interestingly, the purely predatory tends to lag behind those animals we tend to designate as gross, or repulsive. Fear is apparently elevated when combined with the ‘ick’ factor. Spiders shot far ahead of all the other non-humans, followed in turn by invertebrates, slimy and otherwise, mice, rats, bats, and parasites. Phobias about animals rank high in human fears. Besides being merely and entertaining the study delves into our innate biology. Millions of years of species interaction are locked into human DNA. What we recoil from instinctively can help understand our species’ history.

Key Takeaways:

  • The internet may be ruled by cats and the fear people have for cats but in our nightmares spiders still dominate.
  • To understand people’s fear and disgust with various animals a research team from the Czech republic showed people various animals and analyzed their reactions.
  • The horror film industry has consistently exploited the fact that most phobias are related to animals and have produced several films to attest to that.

“Spiders were the clear winner (cats, side note, were at the extreme opposite end of the scale). The team, led by Jakub Polák, surveyed 2,291 volunteers from a Facebook group comprised of Czech and Slovakian volunteers to better understand animal phobias.”

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