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Zombie ants are scarier than you ever imagined

When you consider zombies, maybe George A. Romero’s movie “Night of the Living Dead” or the hit TV present “The Walking Dead” come to thoughts. 

But now there is a new class for senseless consuming machines —ants.

A brand new fungus, often known as Ophiocordyceps unilteralis, has been turning ants into precise zombies, inflicting them to stroll mindlessly, eat vegetation and cling from the perimeters of leaves and twigs. If that wasn’t sufficient, the fungus takes over the ant’s physique, apart from the mind, researchers say. 

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“Fungal cells were found throughout the host body but not in the brain, implying that behavioral control of the animal body by this microbe occurs peripherally,” in accordance with the research, first printed within the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists. “Additionally, fungal cells invaded host muscle fibers and joined together to form networks that encircled the muscles. These networks may represent a collective foraging behavior of this parasite, which may, in turn, facilitate host manipulation.”

The paper’s authors initially believed that the fungus alters the mind to alter the conduct of the ants, nevertheless it successfully invades the muscle fibers of the ant, making a type of skeleton contained in the ant. 

“The connections are likened to structures that aid in transporting nutrients and organelles in several plant-associated fungi,” the paper reads. “These findings alter the current view of parasite-extended phenotypes by demonstrating that behavior control does not require the parasite to physically invade the host brain and that parasite cells may coordinate to change host behavior.”

David Hughes, senior creator of the work, likened it to “a puppeteer [that] pulls the strings to make a marionette transfer, the fungus controls the ant’s muscle tissues to control the host’s legs and mandibles.”

After a time period, the host ant turns into immobilized and the fungus sprouts out of the physique and appears for an additional host to contaminate – all very paying homage to zombie films and TV reveals.


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