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How do parasitic fungi turn ants into zombies?

Probably in the world there is no man whonever in my life has I watched films about zombies - dead creatures, which for various reasons came to life and began to hunt for living creatures. Some people find it hard to believe that the revived dead actually exist and are ants infected with a parasitic fungus called cordyceps. Previously, scientists were confident that a dangerous fungus controls the bodies of insects penetrating into their brains, but everything turned out to be much easier - it controls only the muscles.

American biologists learned about this by examiningthe behavior of the parasitic fungus of the species Ophiocordyceps. During the observations, they found that once on the body of an ant, the spores of the fungus pierce its hard shell and penetrate the inside of the insect, full of sticky substance. It houses the so-called hyphal tubes that permeate the entire body of an ant and even muscles. By capturing muscle control, the fungus can control the movements of the insect.

The fungus turns insects into zombies

Using a microscope, scientists noticed that the funguscompletely destroys the sarcolemma - the surface of the muscle fibers. At the same time, the joints of muscles with the brain remain unharmed, and this suggests that the parasite somehow interacts with the brain impulses. How exactly this happens is not yet clear to scientists, but now they know for sure that the transformation of an ant into a zombie occurs without the direct penetration of the fungus into the brain.

Ant muscles captured by a parasitic fungus

Capturing control over the ant's body, the fungusCordyceps makes it climb to the highest branch. After reaching the top, something even more amazing happens - obeying the commands of the fungus, the ant bites the branch with such force that its head is torn to pieces. The insect, of course, finally dies, but the spores of the parasitic fungus that have accumulated in its head fall down from a high branch and infect the ants below.

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That the fungus turns insects into zombies notacting directly on the brain, and first of all grasping the muscles - a great scientific discovery. Despite this, parasitic fungi still remain an extremely mysterious kingdom of nature with traits of both plants and animals. For example, it is still not clear to scientists why small bubbles form inside infected insects. Some experts believe that these tiny particles emit substances needed to control other people's bodies. Perhaps it is, but it is important to study this issue in more detail.

Parasitic fungi in Russia

No matter how unexpected it sounds, parasiticmushrooms exist in Russia. Surely everyone saw them - in the forest, on the bark of some trees you can see quite large growths. They are tinder fungi, which, although not infecting humans and animals for subsequent control of their bodies, are nonetheless parasites.

Tinder mushroom

The spores of this fungus penetrate the tree throughcrevices and spread throughout the wood, destroying it. Treated with tinder trees easily break and, therefore, do not live as long as they could.

How do zombie spiders appear?

The walking dead can turn not onlyinsects, but also arthropod spiders. It is known that they turn into zombies after the attack of a special kind of wasps, which lay eggs on their backs. The hatching larvae inject spiders into the bodies of spiders, which causes them to produce a particularly durable web form, from which a safe cocoon is woven for the peaceful development of the wasp larvae.

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