Daily Smart Fact

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Posts Tagged ‘ants

Daily Smart Fact #22: Real Zombies roam the earth via brain-eating fungi

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Key Takeaway:  The fungus, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, invades its host ant’s brains and forces the ant to do its bidding.  The fungus uses the ant as a walking food source and damages the muscle and ant’s central nervous system, resulting in a “zombie walking.”

I was having a conversation about my blog with my sister and brother-in-law, and he excited exclaimed that I should write about the brain-eating fungi from Planet Earth because those suckers are probably one of the creepiest things known to man.  I concurred. They’re creepy and unbelievably real.

If you don’t know what I’m referring to, here’s a video:

Once the fungus reaches the ant’s brain, it causes the ant to climb up and up and up, and then causes the insect to “clamp-down on the underside of a leaf which locks in place as its jaw becomes dislocated — subjecting the ant to a painful, self-inflicted death.”

According to News.com,

The fungus attacks the ants on two fronts. Firstly by using the ant as a walking food source, and secondly by damaging muscle and the ant’s central nervous system, resulting in zombie walking and the death bite, which place the ant in the cool damp understorey.

Together these provide the perfect environment for fungal growth and reproduction.

Begin the theme from the Twilight Zone….freaky deaky!

Written by Bea

June 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Biology

Tagged with , , ,