Fungal infection causes tarantula to grow antlers

This image may look like something dreamed up for a surreal horror movie, but it's a real horror for the tarantula in question. This unfortunate arachnid is infected with Cordyceps, a parasitic fungus that replaces its host's tissue with its own.

Cordyceps fungi invades its hosts (mainly arthropods), and its mycelium eventually replaces the host's tissue. Once the arthropod is dead, cylindrical or branching growths emerge from the creature's dead body. Some species also have mind-control capabilities, convincing the host to travel to a place where the fungus will find optimal growth conditions before the host dies. If you haven't seen it yet, this video from Planet Earth shows a Cordyceps fungus in action:

Really, when it come to being nightmarishly frightening, tarantulas have nothing on this freaky fungus.

Tarantula infected with Cordyceps [reddit via Boing Boing]