Author Susan Benton

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Zombie ant

Any carpenter ant of the Brazilian rain forest who happens to consume the spore of a particular fungus is doomed. It will become a zombie.

The ingested spore creates an interconnected network of cells throughout the ant that takes control of its movements. Bypassing the brain, this network somehow acts like a puppeteer directly controlling movement. It causes the ant to leave its home up in the tree and descend to the forest floor. There, in its orchestrated final act, the ant chomps onto the vein of a discarded leaf and remains.

Over ten days, the fungus grows by consuming the insides of the ant. Ultimately, a new spore bursts through the ant's head to entice the next unsuspecting ant, and the life cycle of the fungus is preserved.

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(Photo:By David Hughes, Maj-Britt Pontoppidan, PLoS ONE [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5) or CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons)

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Link...Gizmodo

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ZOMBIE ANTS by Frances Nagle

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