Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zombies

Picture Credit: Steve Yanoviak/University of Arkansas at Little Rock

'Zombie animals and the parasites that control them' has some amazing pictures and stories, for example:

"... This spider, Plesiometa argyra, is an expert builder of perfectly round webs. But with one sting, a parasitic wasp can take over its mind. The wasp deposits its larvae inside the spider's body, along with a new blueprint—instead of building its web, the spider spends the last night of its life constructing a silk cocoon, which becomes a home for its killers. When the silk sack is done, the larvae kill the spider. Then they take up residence in the cocoon, suspended safely above the predators of the rainforest floor..."

"... Turn over a piece of wood in your yard and you might find pill bugs on the bottom, hiding from birds who consider them a tasty treat. Parasitic spiny-headed worms that live in pill bugs, however, need the birds to find them: While the worms grow up inside their pill bug hosts, they can't reproduce there. Instead, they need to be in the belly of a starling. To achieve this goal, the worm gets control of the bug's brain and makes it crawl out into the open. When a bird gulps down the pill bug, the parasite can move through another step of its life cycle...."

... and a number of other amazing examples...

 
back to top