Zombie films and shows have a whole different fan base. But the thought of zombies truly existing is another matter altogether. It's all fun and games until science tells you that zombies do, in fact, exist.
And y'know what? They really do. More so in the wildlife and natural world. Apparently, scientists have found certain animals and insects that are prone to getting infected by parasites or other creatures that lead to them losing control of their own minds. Read on to know more.
1. Zombie Rats
Okay, brace yourselves, because it is about to get gory. So apparently a parasite named Toxoplasma has been found to turn rats into zombies. The parasite basically paralyses a part of rats' brains that ultimately leads to rats becoming less afraid of their arch nemeses, cats. Yep, the parasite makes them kind of brain dead.
2. Zombie Carpenter Ants
So generally, viruses' and parasites' main aim is to spread and survive (I learnt a lot of this from Resident Evil). Here, a fungal parasite named Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, causes ants to mindlessly climb onto a leaf, and literally wait until they die there. That is how the parasite spreads further. Through other ants eating the same plant. Ew. Just ew.
3. Zombie Spiders
Some time back zoologist Philippe Fernandez-Fournier along with his colleagues discovered that a species of Zatypota wasps can zombify spiders of the Anelosimus eximius species. The wasps do this to take control of the spiders' minds to get them to become hosts for their own offsprings.
4. Mutant Zombie Plants
In terms of plants, there is a group of bacteria by the name of phytoplasma that inhabits and causes plants to mutate. For instance, the bacteria can cause a plant to grow leaves or something that is unusual from its natural state. And, that then, attracts insects that will eat off of the plant and spread the bacteria further.
5. Sex Zombie Frogs
This one is unique! But just as gross. A fungus named Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis causes (once it inhabits a body) male frogs' mating calls to change into more attractive ones. Now, hold your horses, I know it doesn't seem all that bad up till now! Once that happens the frogs go on to mate with female frogs mindlessly! Ew, ew, ew.
6. Mud Crabs
A parasite known as Loxothylacus panopaei has been found to turn Mud Crabs into zombies. Apparently, the parasite takes over the crabs' bodies and uses it then as a host for its own offsprings. Specifically, the parasite attaches itself to the crabs' nervous systems, and it becomes so enmeshed with the crabs' bodies that once the process is complete, it is difficult to separate the two. Which is how Loxo controls the crabs it takes over.
Apparently, Killifish in California have been discovered to be infected by a parasitic worm known as fluke. Once the fluke attaches itself to the fish, it changes the level of serotonin being released in the fish's brain and that leads it to constantly swim up to the surface of the ocean, to be available for birds to prey on it. This stuff is so dark!
8. Pill Bugs
It's the same with poor little pill bugs. A parasite known as acanthocephalon takes over their bodies through their food (which is bird poo, just BTW). Once the parasite takes over their brains, it makes them do cray-cray things such as make themselves much more visible to their predators.
Wow, why is the natural world so cruel. What is this survivalist behaviour?