You think zombies exist only in movies? Think again!

You think zombies exist only in movies? Think again!

Scientists have discovered that a particular species of fungus targets carpenter ants that live in the rainforests of Thailand.

Now for the gory part.

This fungus, once it finds its way into the body of it’s host ant, multiplies to such an extent that it occupies the ant’s entire body which leads to muscle decay – although the ant is still alive. After a few days the fungus assumes control of every aspect of the ants movement and behaviour – the ant is, for lack of a scientific term, zombified.

Once the fungus is completely in control of its host, it can effectively make the ant do anything it wants. As an effect of the fungus replacing the functions of the ants own organs, the ant eventually convulses and falls from the tree onto the moist soft ground below- fertile ground for fungal breeding.

Then it gets really creepy.

For some reason, the fungus, which now controls the physical movements of the ant, manipulates the now detached muscle fibres within the ant’s head that allows the fungus to control the opening and closing of the ant’s mandibles. It then gets the ant to bite down effectively lock its jaw onto a leaf – it does this because a leaf is the perfect vehicle for the fungus to escape onto once it ultimately poisons and then breaks out of the ant’s head. It then shoots is spores onto the leaf with the purpose of infecting another passing ant, thereby multiplying.

While recorded and documented, it is still not understood within the scientific community why this final act of making the ant bite down on a leaf always happens at a particular time of day – high noon.

So there you have it. Zombies, alien mind and body control and showdowns at high noon.

So spare a thought for these poor ants next time you see an episode of the Walking Dead!


National Geographic

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