Ah yes, the flukeman: a rare human/trematode hybrid born in a slurry of radioactive sewage.
As you'll remember from Mulder and Scully's investigation, the creature arrived in the United States back in 1994 after escaping from a Russian freighter full of nasty Chernobyl salvage. It quickly took to New Jersey sewers and porta potties, emerging to feed on humans and infect them with its parasitic young.
The Science As far as hybrids go, flukeman's a tough nut to crack. From an evolutionary standpoint, nematodes and humans split more than 600 million years ago -- yet we still share a lot of our genetics with our distant parasitic kin. In fact, according to biologist Jagan Srinivasan, the sequencing of nematode genomes will help us better understand our own genetic processes.
Cultural Discussion As dependent as we are upon modern pluming and sewage treatment, most of us try not to think too long and hard about what goes on down there in the pipes. Flukeman, much like the fatberg, sums up our sewer-related revulsion and fear. And particularly with porta potties, this ghastly mush-mouth amplifies the horror we feel when we gaze down into the poop-choked darkness beneath us. What if there's something down there waiting to attack our nethers?
Closing Thoughts There's not much scientific evidence for the radioactive monster theory (as discussed in our CHUD episode), but we'll sadly never know for sure where this proud creature came from as Agent Fox Mulder cleaved it in half with a sewer grate nearly a decade ago. Flukeman sightings continued for some time, but the hybrid is largely thought to be extinct now.
Monster of the Week is a - you guessed it - regular look at the denizens of our monster-haunted world. In some of these, we'll look at the possible science behind a creature of myth, movie or legend. Other times, we"ll just wax philosophic about the monster's underlying meaning. After all, the word "monstrosity" originates from the Latin monstrare, which meant to show or illustrate a point.
Robert Lamb is a senior writer and podcaster at HowStuffWorks, where he co-hosts Stuff to Blow Your Mind with Julie Douglas. He has a love for monsters, an aversion to slugs and a hankering for electronic music.