Feeds

back to article Brain-jacking fungus turns living victims into 'zombies'

Scientists say they have discovered a horrific flesh-eating fungus which is able to infect living creatures and turn them into "zombies". The hapless victims are then compelled to shamble away to a location where their immobilised bodies - as they are gradually consumed from within, acting as food supply and nest to the ghastly …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Coat

Sound familiar

I often used to wonder how organisations like EDS, Perot and Andersons used to make people wear suits and only be judged on their ability to wear them, rather than actually do the job. Wonder where they hide the fruiting bodies tho'? In a machine room somewhere?

0
0
Terminator

Yeuch.

I've seen a video of this on YouTube. It's just as disgusting as it sounds.

0
0
Welcome

Am I the first...

...to welcome our fungal zombie overlords?

It might not be a very nice way to go, but you can't help but admire it!

0
0

Another excuse to post a youtube vid

Watch the horrors unfold here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCOQ0VU24xw

These fungii scare me witless.

0
0
Alert

News Flash

Just in - ant stopped from getting on a plane to france because it was constantly saying "Braains".

Reports that it was clutching a bad forgery of a ticket for "Vulture 1" departing from Paris are unconfirmed by police.

I do hope El'Reg will be checking the paper plane for stowaways!

0
0
Flame

Show it to the Creationists then

A creationist would argue that something like this must be designed rather than chance, after all how could a simple fungus appear to know so much about the workings of an ant and be able to control and direct an ant in a way that should be beyond the understanding of a fungus.

Then my counter argument would be, well if God designed something like that, then why would he bother, it's gross and ickky and pointless.

If there is a God he was possibly smoking something dodgy when he thought that one up.

Flames, because yeah I mentioned religion and now need to keep my head down...

0
0
FAIL

I call fake

Why is the logical conclusion that the fungus is controlling the ants?

More logical is that an ant knows that it is ill and does not want others to become ill so moves as far away as it can. Then funds a safe place under a leaf.

Sounds more logical than a fungus controlling brain function. However its probably more news worthy when presented this way.

0
0
Boffin

Not the only parasite to do this

Lancet flukes have been known for a long time to zombify ants.

0
0

Ahh we got a room here that does that

Every new Employee has to go to the room..

Once there..

Off comes the Scalp (Pop sounded needed here)

Out comes the brain (Squechling noise here)

In Goes the Putty.

Then send back to work as a drone.. (Or sent to work for them Opera guys)

0
0
Grenade

Chtorr

I knew the story reminded me of something: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Against_the_Chtorr

Just wait for fifteen meter-long gastropedes, this time next year.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

DAMN, NATURE!

YOU SCARY!

0
0
Alien

Theres a similar fungus

that affects slugs as I remember, which causes the the snail to climb to the top of a plant and advertise itself as food for birds (this is combined with weirdly pulsing eye stalks).. Once the snail is eaten the spores are passed out through the birds droppings to infect new snails.

(It may be slugs not snails as I was reading about it ages ago & the video footage is rank to quote my daughter)

0
0
Linux

Use Linux carefully

So this is what becomes of all those Ubuntu fanbois.

0
0
Silver badge

Isn't evolution wonderful

Even virii have evolved to warp their hosts' brains to their own advantage. Rabies causes its victims to go mad and bite anything that comes within range. How does a host catch rabies? By being bitten.

Horrid, isn't it..

0
0

@ Smallbrainfield

youtube URL?

0
0
Black Helicopters

I'm sure it's useful

To the Umbrella Corporation....

0
0
Alert

@Nextweek Re, I call fake

That's a fine theory, and testable - ie, do ants regularly go jab their mandibles into a high leaf when they're ill? I suspect people who study this may have already considered it ...

Actually I'm not sure why it would make sense that the ants, when feeling ill, would of their own volition position themselves high above other ants and let the disease bearing agents rain down on their kin.

Personally I'll at least listen to the people who care about being right on this.

0
0

Self Defence

Handy to know if we ever get attacked by an extra-terrestrial insect race. We could give Chuck Norris the day off.

0
0
FAIL

@ Nextweek

Isn't logic a wonderful thing?

Unfortunately for you, that parasites can control host behaviour is well known, from directly manipulating the host brain by physical means, to releasing chemicals into the host (this can happen to humans too, by the way, google Toxoplasma gondii).

Also, if you read the article instead it states that this parasite was already well known, the latest paper is all about the actual mechanisms by which the parasite changes the behaviour of the host.

0
0
Alien

X-Files?

I think there was an episode on the X-Files that had fungii entrancing Fox and Dana amongst others. What next? Alien aductions?

0
0
Silver badge

Zombifying ants? Ha!

Headcrabs were doing the same thing to humans since 1998.

0
0
Joke

I thought I'd seen this behaviour before....

I remember where now.... question time!

0
0
Bronze badge
Welcome

@Nextweek

No it is not more logical, because Ants don't really think as such, they just do.

This fungus has evolved into a very specific niche. You may think that this is Fungus 1, Ants 0 but some ants (leafcutters IIRC) actually farm fungus for food. They take bits of leaf back to their burrow where conditions are right for growing fungus on it, they then eat the fungus.

So you can think of it as what our American cousins like to refer to as "Payback".

The logical conclusion is that one day, in the not-too-distant future, the mushrooms will start to invade out craniums. Oh hang on ...

0
0
Terminator

Cordyceps unilateralis

A very similar fungus was covered on "Planet Earth":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_Earth_(TV_series)#8._.22Jungles.22

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordyceps_unilateralis

Seriously nasty stuff...

0
0

Gross

Well that's another way to bring the end to human civilization. We've seen how viruses mutate to cross species so maybe this fungi could do the same. Then all it takes is someone to bring back a few spores in their suitcase and another country will get infected.

I'm sure this will spore on another zombie movie. (Haha, did you see what I did there?)

0
0
Paris Hilton

WOW !!!

Cooool ..... A REAL life ZombieX mod - who needs COD5 now ....

Its gotta be another Paris as she also sucks the brians out of most blokes !!

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Oops..

Of course, once re-reading the article, it was this exact species being studied... Interesting stuff though...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@Nextweek

Call off the science! Clearly, you, with one forum post, are able to cut right through all that exhaustive research and hundreds of years of scientific method and biological study. Science, move over! There's a new boy in town, and -you're- obsolete!

0
0

@Nextweek

"Why is the logical conclusion that the fungus is controlling the ants?"

"More logical is that an ant knows that it is ill and does not want others to become ill so moves as far away as it can. Then funds a safe place under a leaf."

(Disclaimer: I Am Not A Biologist and the following is speculation)

This is where words like "control" can be misleading (if not anthropomorphic) in such contexts. It's quite likely that this *is* the case and the fungus has evolved to exploit this tendency of ants. It could be said to be "controlling" their brains in this way.

This is, as you say, far more likely than an organism as simple as a fungus somehow being able to manipulate the ants' brains in a more complex manner- exploiting an existing and inherent characteristic of ant behaviour. However, it doesn't actually contradict the headline.

It's quite possible that the story got distorted a couple of steps down the line from the original source (as happens with science stories) and will be "KILLER MUSHROOM DOES BRAIN SURGERY ON ANTS" by the time it appears in The Sun.

0
0
Bronze badge
Flame

am i the only one...

...who sees the similarity to the transmission of the Flood parasite in the Halo series?

<--- Fire beats fungus.

0
0
Terminator

@ several: Latin

Singular: virus. Plural: viri (not virii)

Singular: fungus. Plural: fungi (not fungii)

OK, pedantry over.

In a different life I was a medical microbiologist, saving lives, here in the UK and later in Africa. To this day I remain in awe of what pathogenic microorganisms do to the hosts they infect. Even more clever are the parasites, which increase their own population without killing the host.

A truth that was told to me as a student is "Don't believe the text books as gospel. Germs don't read text books, so they make up the rules as they go along". In other words, they evolve. Another one for the creationists, FuzzyDuck (MRSA did not exist before we started using methicillin), so I am on your side!

0
0
Ru
Boffin

Re: "what our American cousins like to refer to as "Payback"

This is hardly payback... in return for being nibbled on a bit, the fungus gets to be widely spread, and well protected from other insects which might overgraze it. Its future is pretty much assured.

You can see a not dissimilar relationship in the supermarket. Most successful bird species on earth? Avis Domestica. Though individuals get eaten fairly often, the species is incredibly widespread and its continued survival into the future is pretty much guaranteed, so long as it major predator continues to thrive, and they remain tasty and nutritious.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand... there's lots of similar parasitic fungi. Here's a delightful photo of one eating a fly: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrismorgan/3556399015/ It spreads in a similar fashion, by making the fly cling to a stem and spread its wings to act as a spore disseminator.

0
0
Dead Vulture

@Gross

First carpenter ants, next human carpenters, then the rest of us. Maybe a high level of alcohol in the bloodstream confers immunity.

0
0

This is what happens when.....

scientists spend too much time in the lab surrounded by chemicals and start playing Prototype

0
0
Joke

Nasty!

but what we really want to know is what did the Pink Panther say when he saw this?

0
0
Alien

@nextweek

Ohhh you are so silly

As for the snails I mentioned it's a flat worm that does the brain control bit (sorry but it was years ago) but heres a link anyway http://people.smu.edu/eheise/Leucochloridium_paradoxum.htm

0
0
Big Brother

@nextweek

One word, OK, two "peer review".

You don't just send an item into a journal and expect them to print it.

It's passed on to others in your field, returned/re-returned/re-returned to you for editing, updating, clarification - expect a MINIMUM of 6 months for it to be accepted.

0
0
Terminator

I for one...

...welcome our zombie fungus overlords.

0
0
Stop

Aha!

I knew there was a damn good reason for people buying Lily Allen records and I think we've just found it.

0
0
Troll

I see it now

"Ant" and Dec - in a jungle, making people do stupid things. I wonder if someone is infected and is trying to get all the contestants zombiefied, certainly viewers go brain-numb just watching them.

0
0
H 5
Big Brother

Mind Control

Catapillars:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14053-zombie-caterpillars-controlled-by-voodoo-wasps.html

Rats

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11516-parasite-hijacks-brains-with-surgical-precision.html

Oh My..

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227115.000-parasite-may-increase-your-odds-of-an-auto-accident.html

Give Leon a call, Las Plagas is here, run for the hills.

0
0
Silver badge

Slugs and snails and Latin.

@Rob Crawford: Could this be the snail fungus you were referring to?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWB_COSUXMw

@Sergie Kaponitovicz: The plural of virus in the modern sense is generally accepted to be viruses. The Latin 'virus' seems to be one of those rare nouns that has never been recorded as having a plural, possibly because in the original Latin it appears to refer to poison or venom en mass rather than as something countable.

0
0

@ Simon Harris

Let's agree to differ. I did say "pedantry aside", but for the record I believe that you are wrong. Any Latin word ending *****us when converted to the plural becomes *****i. I went to a good school: it was Approved.

When I was learning how to save lives, all of my tutors used the word 'viri' (pronounced v-eye-ree).

The Americans changed it to 'viruses' when Windoze woz shone 2 b a lode of shite.

0
0

Thats the one

Yeah Simon thats the one, unfortunitely as I said I was wrong apparently it's a flatworm not a fungi. It's still damned creepy

I also remember a mention of a cat parasite that changes cats behaviour but I could be wrong

0
0
Paris Hilton

Saw this in a movie once, too...

Has anyone seen the end to "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes"? Disturbing. Matches parts of the description in this article perfectly.

Paris, because I assume she fancies going out to see a surreal movie.

0
0
Joke

ew err missus

My bessie mate's a zombie, been that way for years.

But don't let that put you off, he's a fungi to be with.

0
0
Terminator

attended a talk with the writter a few years back

"By Nextweek Posted Wednesday 12th August 2009 11:35 GMT

Why is the logical conclusion that the fungus is controlling the ants?

More logical is that an ant knows that it is ill and does not want others to become ill so moves as far away as it can. Then funds a safe place under a leaf.

Sounds more logical than a fungus controlling brain function. However its probably more news worthy when presented this way."

they go high up to allow the greatest chance of the spores given off by the fruiting fungus finding another ant to infect as ants avoid going near ants that are infected and move their trails accordinly

0
0
Happy

@if God designed something like that

> "if God designed something like that, then why would he bother, it's gross and ickky and pointless."

My god would do it just for the kicks.

> "If there is a God he was possibly smoking something dodgy when he thought that one up"

Yup, that's him, all right.

0
0
Joke

I spent ten minutes...

...trying ti anagrammise Ophiocordyceps unilateralis into something that meant "April Fool" before (a) giving up and (b) realising it's August.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

My initial research suggests that there is a similar fungus operating in humans

commonly known as "Microsoft Powerpoint"

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.