Every once in awhile, a bit of science crosses your path, and you think, yes, this is how we’re all going to die and our civilization as we know it will disappear. For instance, consider the fact that there are black spidery things on Mars and no one really knows what the deal is with them.

They look like this:

NASA (via NPR)

Robert Krulwich writes at NPR:

What are those things? They were first seen in 1998; they don’t look like anything we have here on Earth. To this day, no one is sure what they are, but we now know this: They come, then they go.

Did you hear that?? These things move.

Every Martian spring, they appear out of nowhere, showing up — 70 percent of the time — where they were the year before. They pop up suddenly, sometimes overnight. When winter comes, they vanish … As the sun gets hotter, they get more spidery.

Excuse me while I hyperventilate a little bit. Agh, now that’s making me think that these things are breathing in some way. Or … who knows? According to Krulwich, these could come from an “underground layer of frozen CO2″ which “turns suddenly into a roaring gas … exploding into the Martian air.” Or they could be “colonies of photosynthetic Martian microorganisms.” Or (and this is just my paranoid speculation) they could be tentacles! Alveoli! Anything could be living there, just waiting to piggyback on the first spaceship back to Earth and consume us all.