Imagine just minding your work one day when you suddenly became disoriented and started behaving strangely. Your co-workers, panicked by your symptoms would then isolate you far away from anyone. There you would cringe alone unconsciously while something else took over your brain and self-control. After your untimely demise, your body would be left alone until a strange creature sprouted and used you as a host.
Sounds something straight from a horror fiction? Actually, everything you read was from a true story. Except the victim was an ant and not a human being… well, not just yet.
Most Hollywood movies depict zombie apocalypse start from unknown viruses. However, nature has already been witnessing this occurrence for a very long time.
Apparently, zombie apocalypse would not be caused by viruses like we have always imagined. If there is one species that can make another creature turn into a walking dead, it is the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis.
Here is an ant on its first stage of the infection.
The fungus would command its host to climb up a branch where it would thrive and ultimately kill the ant.
Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is a type of parasitic fungus that invades the brain of a poor and unsuspecting ant. Once it enters the system, the ant will go through a zombie-like state, following the commands dictated by the infected brain. After the fungus has completely taken over, it will sprout from the inside ultimately murdering the ant.
Ants have evolved to recognize ‘symptoms’ of the zombie infection and isolate them to prevent spread of the disease.
But it’s not just ants, other types of cordyceps are also specialized to infect and feed off other insects.
Even the ants are aware of how fatal and serious the ‘zombie infection’ is. Once a member of the colony starts showing symptoms, they quickly remove it from the group and put it far away where it cannot infect other ants. The fungus has been known to wipe out an entire colony in just a matter of time.
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But it is not just ants that could be infected by this type of fungus, even tarantulas and other insects. According to BBC- Planet Earth, the more numerous a species become, the more likely its nemesis would attack it. Maybe human beings are a little bit overdue, don’t you think?