You thought the zombie craze was out of control? Well, now it’s not only ventured into the insect kingdom, but it’s expanding. An insect zombie apocalypse? Well, not quite, but we could be getting there.
What they heck are we talking about? Read on, McDuff, and ye shall be illuminated!
Scientist have just discovered a new species of fungus (Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani) in the Brazilian rain forest which can mind control ants. Yup, you read that right. Mind control!
This fungus’ abilities are fascinating, bizarre and eventually macabre. It infects the ant, takes over the ant’s nervous system and causes it to perform a series of activities beneficial to the fungus. Usually this includes moving the ant away for its colony, and toward more vital areas for the fungal growth. Think Dawn of the Dead’s mall invasion, insect style.
But what it does next is the most chilling. The fungus forces the ant to attach itself to the underside of a leaf with it’s powerful mandibles. This gives the fungus a secure platform and allows it to feed off the nutrients of the plant. The ant dies in this position. And the fungus flourishes and grows. (see photo above). Maximum creepiness!
This new species was quite a find, because up till this point only one species of this type (Ophicordyceps unilateralis) was thought to exist. This has spurred scientist to increase monitoring of area. As one scientist put it, “This potentially means thousands of zombie fungi in tropical forests across the globe await discovery … We need to ramp up sampling—especially given the perilous state of the environment”.
Thousands of zombie fungi?
Yikes. Let’s just hope Uwe Boll doesn’t get wind of this phenomena.