Barbs of the avian world be warned: A real-life Demogorgon, in the form of a giant slug, is on the loose — and, just as in Stranger Things, it’s chowing down on the helplessly, pathetically lame.

No, we haven’t opened up a wormhole into the Upside-Down, though you are going to find this thing lurking in tree trunks, near the nests of birds. Just like Nancy and Jonathan, a pair of intrepid Polish researchers did some monster-chasing in the woods, discovering evidence that the giant slugs have been wolfing down the soft, pitiful bodies of newly hatched chicks. They described their gnarly findings in a study, published in the Journal in Avian Biology today. The researchers looked at three subtypes of monsters, all from the slug genus Arion, some of which have been described by researchers at Oregon State University as “basically a stomach on one large foot.” Yikes!

Baby-bird Barbs don't stand a chance.
Baby-bird Barbs don't stand a chance.

Just like the Demogorgon, the slugs are thought to be attracted to the odor of food, though it’s too early to say whether it’s drawn to the scent of blood; in fact, researchers behind the study admit that they’ve had a hard time actually catching the slugs in the act. But what they have found is, arguably, just as gruesome: Nests full of half-dead nestlings, covered in slime, with slug droppings — the putrid excess of a massive meal — scattered nearby.

The four tentacles poking out of the head of an Arion slug looks surprisingly like a Demogorgon’s tulip-shaped face, and they’ve got the same rows of tiny, terrifying teeth. One of the paper’s authors, the University of Wroclaw’s Katarzyna Turzańska, Ph.D., described the slugs’ gruesome attack mode in an interview with New Scientist:

“When a slug finds itself inside a nest – probably accidentally, or maybe by actively searching for this type of food – it just starts foraging on the living nestlings using its radula, or tongue covered in tiny teeth,” says Turzańska. “The nestlings are unable to defend themselves and are eaten alive.”

Goddamn, are these things scary! To helpless baby-bird-Barbs, these 5-inch motherfuckers are a long, wet death knell. Unlike Barb, however, those birds probably don’t deserve it.

Barb bird.
Barb bird.

Photos via Lynch Creek Dahlias, Kotaku, University of Goettingen