Behind the Headlines
Explore our world, one headline at a time.
World Book Editors break down the news in our Behind the Headlines feature allowing for a deeper understanding of the complex events that shape our world today. Behind the Headlines articles are carefully crafted presenting the latest national and world news, science discoveries, current events and other top stories and are simplified for young readers.


Monster Monday: the Giant Isopod

This week’s Monday monster may look oddly familiar. Perhaps you’ve seen a much smaller version of this buglike creature in your backyard on a rotting tree stump or under a rock. Those little critters are commonly called pill bugs, roly polies, sow bugs, or wood lice. But today, meet the giant isopod (Bathynomus giganteus)—this roly poly can grow as big as a small dog!

Monster Monday: the Asian Giant Hornet

The Asian giant hornet is so large, it is sometimes mistaken for a small bird in flight. This big predator is equipped with piercing jaws, a quarter-inch-long (half-centimeter-long) stinger loaded with deadly venom(poison), and an aggressive disposition. It keeps beekeepers up at night and is responsible for the deaths of dozens of people each year.

Monster Monday: the Blobfish

When asked which creature is the floppiest, ugliest, and “blobbiest glob” in the animal kingdom, many people might answer, “the blobfish.” With its beady black eyes, bulbous nose, and dumpy frown, the face of the blobfish is unnervingly similar to that of a gloomy human. Loose, scale-free skin covers its plump, squishy body, which grows to about 1 foot (30 centimeters) in length. It has soft bones and deflates into a saggy wad of pink jelly when removed from the water

Monster Monday: the Box Jellyfish

Under water, the box jellyfish is practically invisible. It is one of the most venomous animals on Earth. It kills more people each year than sharks do. At most, however, it weighs only about 4½ pounds (2 kilograms). This Monster Monday critter packs a lot of pain into a small package.

Halloween Monday: the Jersey Devil

Halloween trick-or-treaters in the forested Pine Barrens region of New Jersey should be watchful tonight. A beast known as the Jersey Devil is said to roam the area. This monster is commonly described as a creature somewhat resembling a small horse or goat with clawed hooves, batlike wings, fangs, red glowing eyes, and a forked tail.

Monster Monday: the Lurid Lamprey

The lamprey is an animal of contradictions. It looks like a leech, but it’s actually a fish. Some adult lampreys suck blood, but others don’t eat at all. Some kinds are invasive, but others are threatened. What is abundantly clear, however, is that the lamprey has a face only a mother could love.

Monster Monday: Zorilla’s Big Stink

Sure, the zorilla (or striped polecat) is cute, but petting is not advised. Aside from its stinky spray, the zorilla’s sharp teeth and strong jaws can deliver a tenacious and painful bite.

Monster Monday: Anaconda

Small and slithery and creepy snakes can make people jump, but what about the monstrous anaconda, a snake so large it can swallow a small cow?

Monster Monday: Gigantopithecus

Standing at a whopping 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weighing more than 900 pounds (400 kilograms), Gigantopithecus was about twice the size of a large male gorilla, making it the largest ape that ever lived.Gigantopithecus walked on its hands and fists, like today’s great apes, and roamed the tropical forests of what are now southern China, northern Vietnam, and northern India.

Monster Monday: Megamouth Shark

The aptly named megamouth shark looks every bit the monstrous man-eater. This enigmatic shark typically grows over 20 feet (4 meters) long and has 50 rows of teeth lining massive, all-swallowing jaws.

Monster Monday: Armadillos of Unusual Size

Learn about the humble armadillo's prehistoric cousin—the glyptodont. While modern armadillos range in length from about 6 inches to 5 feet (15 centimeters to 1.5 meters), some species of glyptodont grew to over 10 feet (3 meters) long, the size of a small car.

Monster Monday: Vampire Squid

Vampire Squid. Photo Credit: © Steve Downer, ardea.com/Pantheon According to legend, vampires have the ability to transform into bats. Could it be that some of them actually turn into spooky, glowing...