Friday, March 18, 2011

Zombie-Creating Fungi! Aaaahhhh!



(A note about the video above. It is narrated by my personal hero, Sir David Attenborough. He is, in my opinion, the greatest man alive. Unfortunately, the video begins with an ad. For food, of all things. Given the nature of the video, that's pretty hilarious. But sorry that you have to suffer through it.)

Okay, let's get to business . . .

There are now FOUR fungi that are known to turn insects into ZOMBIES. No, seriously. The fungi actually take control of the insects' brains. Then they direct their zombies to perform various tasks.

For instance, one fungus instructs zombie ants to climb a tree to a certain height. (Exactly 25 cm off the ground. The humidity must be 94-95% and the temperature 20-30°C.) There, the zombie must cling to the underside of a leaf by clamping on to the leaf's main vein. What happens next is the stuff of nightmares. The fungus begins to reproduce inside the ant's head.

I'm gonna stop there. But let's just say we have the makings of an awesome horror movie.

More here.

14 comments:

Some Lost Melody said...

OMG THAT'S SO CRAZY!! Although I find zombies awesome, this video kinda grossed me out D: Especially when that thing was growing from its head gaaah.

Serena loi said...

this is just so cool

Clare said...

Hey we watched this video in Biology a couple weeks ago!! It's so weird!

Ari the Awesome said...

Kind of a gross video, but that is so interesting! What would happen if a large amount of that suff got into a bigger creature? Could that affect humans???

Erin_Flight said...

I hope a kind does not develop that specializes in humans. Our brains are most likely too complex but still...

Anonymous said...

When I first read the phrase "zombie ant," the first couple thoughts that ran through my head were a bit. . . .profane. Because I really don't like ants, and that combined with the horror movie comment (which I agree with) just made me imagine a horrible, horrible situation. Imagine this: Night of the Living Dead (the original movie), but instead of people zombies, ANT ZOMBIES. And I mean literal zombies. And they don't even die when you squish them. Eeeeeeh. . . .

Holy Lucy batman! said...

I bet they are all fun guys! Sorry bad pun

Anonymous said...

ICK! And Erin_Flight, our brains may be too complex for a full-on takeover, but all a zombie fungus needs to do is just cut us off at the brainstem there in the back and insert its instructions....

Robert, grossed out in San Diego

Elizabeth said...

Okay, that is awesome, creepy, gross and scary all combined into one. True, it would make an awesome zombie movie! But in reality, a giant mob of zombie ants (if they were able to infect humans) would be horrible! Ahhhhhh! This is what I am going to dream about tonight. Eek!

Violet :) said...

Awesome. Really, it's just awesome. I wonder how an ant-zombie would feel to star in a yet-to-be written play...

Anonymous said...

Violet:

Can I be in the play if I don't have my own deelieboppers?

Robert in San Diego

Jin Ai said...

I started laughing when I read this.
then my face contorted into a frozen scream of horror.

...just to add to the lovely mental images in this article.

but seriously, WHAT IS THIS

Anonymous said...

That. Is. Weird!!!!!!!!!

I'd say, give it a few more years, and it won't be long before that thing starts taking over humans brains to! I will so not be thrilled about that.

EQ said...

There's some kind of intestinal worm that does something similar. It only infects a certain species of ant, lets it act normally during the daytime (or nighttime, I can't remember which) and then during the (day/night--whichever) it makes the ant climb to the top of a blade of grass. It has to keep doing this night after night (day after day?) until it, and the grass, is eaten by a sheep. Then the worm has the rest of its life cycle in the sheep. And its eggs go out the other end, which is how the new generation gets into more ants.

@Robert: What's a deeliebopper?