Ghostly 'Scissor Hands' Cave Creature Caught Feasting on Frog

It may not look like Johnny Depp but this ghostly creature with scissor-like hands photographed feasting on a helpless frog sure wouldn't be out of place in a Tim Burton movie.

The photo was shared by Kentucky's Mammoth Cave National Park in a Facebook post on March 3.

"Nature so cray," read the post. "Your eyes do not deceive you, folks. That ghostly creature with the scissors for hands is a cave-dwelling crayfish feasting on a frog that has… croaked."

The creature in question is a cave-dwelling crayfish, Orconectes pellucidus, which, as the name suggests, spends most of its time in the underground streams that run through national park's extensive tunnels.

Cave crayfish eating frog
Photo of a ghostly cave crayfish feasting on a frog in Mammoth Cave National Park. These creatures do not usually cross paths, but recent weather has thrust them together. Mammoth Cave National Park/Facebook

To see a frog cross paths with an underground cave creature is an unusual occurrence, the park service said in the post. "While frogs are commonly found near cave entrances and occasionally near larger cave streams, they don't frequent the same areas as cave-dwelling crayfish."

However, in the aftermath of severe winter storms that left thousands of people across Kentucky without power, these unlikely foes found themselves thrust together.

"Periods of heavy rain can wash surface dwellers like frogs, rats, and other small animals into cave systems where they, unfortunately, perish due to lack of food, inability to return to their normal habitat, or an unfortunate encounter with scissor hands," the park service said.

Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the world's longest known cave system, which stretches for over 420 miles. The park, which is located in south central Kentucky, encompasses 52,830 acres and receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

The cave system, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also home to a rich diversity of cave-dwelling wildlife, with more than 130 species identified so far.

Mammoth Cave trail
Photo of a lantern tour inside the Great Onyx Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park. The park is home to the longest known cave system in the world. Mammoth Cave National Park/National Park Service

The ghost-like crayfish has evolved its unusual appearance to adapt to life in a land without light. The crustacean has no eyes and no pigmentation, features that would be a waste of energy for a creature that spends its life in total darkness.

There are more than 500 species of crayfish, over half of which are found in North America. They are closely related to lobsters and most are sandy yellow, green, red or brown in color. The ghostly cave crayfish, therefore, is unusual in its pigmentation (or lack thereof).

Mammoth Cave is home to several other species with this ghostly complexion too, including the eyeless cave fish and the Kentucky cave shrimp, an endangered species which the National Park Service says can be found nowhere else on Earth.

The photo has received over 1,000 likes on Facebook, with many alluding to its nightmarish nature.

"Did you christen him Edward 'scissor-hand?'" commented one user.

"New fear was just permanently unlocked," said another.