Forget about werewolves, humans might need to brace for a bigger problem when the moon is full: lion attacks. According to a study based out of the University of Minnesota and provided in the journal PloS ONE, African lions are more likely to lethally attack humans in the days immediately following a full moon.
The reason, as Live Science reports, is because it's harder for the carnivorous cats to sneak up on their prey in the bright moonlight, leaving them extra hungry.
As Craig Packer, a researcher for the study, told the publication, lions are "nocturnal, stealthy predators" which "rely on darkness to creep up and attack people."
The implications for the people of southern Tanzania, where the research was focused, were chilling.
According to Live Science, from 1988 to 2009, over 1,000 people in southern Tanzania were attacked by lions -- Over two-thirds of the attacks were deadly:
Much of the effect was driven by attacks in the early evening hours, Packer said. In the days before the moon is full, it sets early, meaning the darkest time of night is in the early morning when few people are out and about. After the full moon, however, there is a gap of darkness between sunset and moonrise in the evening. People are more likely to be outside during the evening, Packer said, so they're more vulnerable to attack.
According to an article in the Guardian, researchers studied the times and dates of 500 lion attacks from 1988 to 2009.
A news analysis video from Newsy.com said the researchers hope to use the findings to help educate poor farmers in Tanzania on how to avoid the danger. They went on to say that perhaps the attacks have had a effect on our history as a species.
The video presents CBS News quoting the study's lead author:
"Perhaps they've also touched on an explanation for our centuries-old fear of darkness, if not the accompanying mythology surrounding the full moon. 'There's bound to have been an effect of moonlight on our psychology because of these risks... The full moon definitely is a loud and clear harbinger.'"