Field biologist had a terrifying encounter straight out of Annihilation

Originally published at:


Omg. I was hitchhiking 30 years ago. I was about 19. We settled down in a national park for the night. We built a fire, but being city kids had no fucking clue how much wood that would need. The fire started dying down to embers.

Then we had something scream right outside our camp. We shot up and freaked out. I had never heard anything like that. My buddy grabbed his spray mace and I kept yelling t him to get back to the fire because he thought it was a human messing with us. That was not a human noise.

Then the fire kicked up and I saw eyes reflected above him on a tree limb he was under. I screamed. He sprayed mace everywhere in a panic. It screamed when the mace hit it and went crashing away. We grabbed our gear and packed in 30 seconds flat and hiked back out using matches for light. I heard something following us all the way to the highway, and for quite a ways until we got to town.

Once we got to the next town, a guy let us sleep in his empty school bus. We caught ride to a diner in the morning. My buddy thought it was big foot, but the locals told us it was probably a cougar. That was one of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me.


A colleague of mine told me about a similar situation where they had a camera trap on a nighttime survey transect. When they reviewed the camera trap images, they realised that for several nights a mountain lion had been stalking 10-20m behind researchers working along the transect. Just out of sight in the dark, totally silent, they’d never known it was there.


This reminds me of when we went on our honeymoon in Namibia. One night we were staying in a posh glamping type place. Had a good supper and a bottle of wine and went to sleep. I was woken up in the middle of the night by a noise that could be inadequately described as ominous rumbling. Whatever it was it made me feel very much like prey.
Next morning, the game warden asked us, over breakfast, whether we had heard the lion. Yes, yes I had.
My wife slept through the scary rumbling which I remind her of whenever a child wakes her up in the middle of the night.


I grew up in mountain lion country and have always been fascinated by them! I’ve only seen two in the wild and they both knew that I was there long before I had any idea. And yeah, they definitely make some creepy-ass noises when they’re in the mood for some lovin’.

Fun fact- they have especially pungent musk and urine to compensate for having a terrible sense of smell. They stalk by sound and sight and never really needed to evolve great noses, I guess.


A skunk-ape far from home? :sunglasses:


Reads headline




I think it depends on your perspective. Are you the hunter or the hunted? My cousins in the mountains have run many a cougar up a tree by acting as the aggressor. Cougars don’t want to be injured or die. They have families to feed. If they feel you are prey, they act accordingly. If they have doubts about that proposition, they will act like prey themselves and go into self-protection/run-away mode.


How is this like Annihilation ? I thought that movie was about killer spores or something.

I thought the biologist was going to enter the den, see some fearsome creature stumbling around, and then find that the creature had been taken over by spores that were controlling its mind.


My local science center has a mountain lion exhibit. The animal is disturbingly muscular and the distance markers showing how far it can jump vertically and horizontally boggle my mind.


This summer,I was out camping by myself (probably the only person within several miles), cooking bacon for breakfast, when a huge, incredibly muscular male showed up at my campsite and started acting fairly aggressive. He wound up taking off when I pointed a rifle at him, but, the night before, I had heard something weird a bunch of times, where at some particular location in the forest, all the birds would briefly freak out and then go silent. It creeped me out at the time, and even more so after I realized what was probably causing it.

I packed up my stuff and left right after, since even though he backed down, I couldn’t really relax by the river knowing that he could change his mind any time, and sneak up on me if he wanted to.


If you live where foxes do you know what evil sounds like.

Until you see the kits. OMG soooo cute.


Next time just offer him a beer and warn him about there being mountain lions around. He’ll chill out.


Hmmmmm… Twitter?

One would think a biologist would be able to identify the tracks of a mountain lion - she admits she got a good look at them.

Bullshit meter is peaking.


Seriously. :roll_eyes: Obviously not a cat owner. I hear that sound somewhere between 1AM to 3AM almost every night, unless exhaustion allows me to sleep right through it. :pouting_cat:




True fact: Wes Craven and Sam Raimi collaborated to make happy foxes sound like Death Screams From Hell.


He just came for the bacon, give him some!

Canines got nothing on big cats. Hearing this sound in the bush, especially if you didn’t know what it was, would be uber-freaky indeed.


She can spot rattlesnake tracks a mile away. Specialisation.