Mother Nature is creating zombies?

In the last couple of months I have been seeing all of these Instagram posts from National Geographic (great account to follow by the way) about “zombie fungus”. I always read the little captions and it provides intellectual enrichment for me for about 30 seconds. But then, about a month ago I went on a trip with some friends and we got to chatting about it. Put a bunch of zoo nerds in a van together for a 9 hour car ride and conversations can get a little weird; we also talked about aliens if that gives you any indication of how this all went down. At any rate, I got curious and decided to dig a little deeper in this “mind control fungus” and the “zombie ants”. This all sounds like some crazy science fiction stuff but it is actually real life

Ants, they carry heavy shit and operate based on pheromones. Some are evil, some just mind their own business doing ant-type activities. Any way you slice it, as long as they aren’t bothering me I am not opposed to their existence. So here’s how this whole “mind-controlling fungus” thing goes down. I’m just an ant, going out my business carrying a leaf or something and then all of a sudden I breathe in a spore (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis to be exact). So I’m still just doing whatever ants do all day long when a flip switches and the fungus starts eating my “non-essential” tissue. So long arm, see ya later legs, you weren’t necessary anyway! The spore is growing stronger by eating my non-essential tissue so that it can grow tentacles to reach my brain, awesome. Then all of a sudden one day, the pheromones I am sensing are not telling me to go get food to bring back to the colony. The pheromones (actually the spore’s mind controlling tactics) are telling me to climb this tree near my colony, ok sounds great. Now I have this strange urge to climb onto the underside of a leaf and bite down really hard to hang on for dear life, weird I’ve never done this before. My head is starting to hurt, lots of pressure (because a fungus is getting ready to explode out of my head so it can sprout). And then finally I die. Wow my sympathy for ants just increased by ten fold. The fucked up part is that the fungus makes the ant choose a leaf that hangs over its colony. So after the ant dies because of the zombie fungus, it’s spores are then dropped onto the colony that just lost one of their own.

Mother Nature can be such a bitch sometimes…

The burning question in your mind is probably, could a fungus evolve to do this to humans?

From my research, many scientists do not believe that this could ever become an epidemic for humans. So readers never fear because the only mind-control issues in the human race are cults, political parties, and college greek life.

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