Citing new evidence opposing the longstanding misconception that ghosts are the most terrifying creature to walk this earth, researchers at Stanford University announced yesterday that hippopotami are and have always been way more frightening. Though phantoms, specters, and other assorted ghouls may incite feelings of extreme dread and horror in those who behold them, the researchers claimed that no apparition, however eerie, is as terrifying to witness as a single amphibious pachyderm defending his/her offspring or territory from a bumbling passerby.

“Make no mistake—ghosts are damn spooky entities, and you wouldn’t want to be caught twice in a haunted house or graveyard without a proton pack on hand, but no phantom can ever be as scary as an encounter with a four-thousand-pound male Hippopotamus amphibius at the height of mating season in the Okavango Delta,” exhorted Professor Josephine Garner, head researcher and leading expert in paranormal studies. “I mean, confronting a Class V shadow-walker in the dead of night will always give me the heebie-jeebies, but even the idea of facing down a charging hippo on the banks of the Luangwa River is enough to make me shit my pants.”

Other researchers mirrored Garner’s sentiments, confidently proclaiming the common hippopotamus as perhaps the most spine-chilling creature to walk the face of the earth. “They’ve got fifty-centimeter long tusks, for crying out loud,” remarked Anne Stearns, Faculty Chair of Phantasmology. “That’s just fucking alarming.” Stearns rocked back and forth in her chair as she tried to free herself of the blood-curdling hippo-thought.

“Ghosts fuck me up, but hippos are some real nasty mammerjammers,” Stearns concluded. “Hopefully this study will put to rest a debate that has challenged and frustrated the scientific community for decades.”

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