Feb 06 2016

Natures Scariest Zombies

Mention nature, and people envision beautiful green forests, majestic mountains, the sound of birds in spring, or the ocean crashing into the surf. We tend to only think about the good things. We forget or ignore that things like maggots, tapeworms, Ebola, and AIDS are just as much a part of nature as the graceful panther resting in a tree. Nature could turn on us in an instant, and all the great things we’ve built as a species comes crashing down. Zombies are a good example of what could destroy us, and as you will read below, they’re more than scary stories. They are real.

9. Zombie Cockroaches and the Jewel Wasp

If serial killers reproduced, by doing serial killer stuff, it would look like what the jewel wasp does to the lowly cockroach. This almost makes me feel sorry for these nasty bugs, but not quite. There’s no pretty way to put this. The jewel wasp stings the cockroach, in the head, and then gains total control over it. The wasp returns to its lair while driving the cockroach around by its antenna. The wasp will then lay it’s eggs inside the cockroach, and when those eggs hatch, the little baby larvae will eat their way out of the still living, and zombified cockroach. At least the cockroach will stay out of my pantry and potentially my ear. I just hope the jewel wasp never starts doing that to us.

8. Toxoplasma Gondii aka Cat Poop of the Damned

People love cats, but maybe not so much after this. Toxoplasma Gondii is a parasite that is found in cat poop. Doctors have known it was dangerous since the 1920’s, which is why pregnant women are told to stay away from litter boxes. They just didn’t know how dangerous it really was. The fecal parasite can pass from mom to fetus, causing it severe brain damage or killing it. Further research, in Germany, has shown that this parasite can alter behavior in rats, most notably making them think cats are awesome – and quickly becoming kitty dinner. It also looks like it can put a human’s primal instincts and desires, like anxiety, fear, and lust, into overdrive. We may just be one mutation away from cat turds making us want to murder and eat out neighbors.

7. Rabies

One thing that rabies has going for it, in terms of being something zombie-ish, is that one of the most common ways it spreads is through biting. Rabies is also a neurological disease that affects behavior. Most commonly, it makes the people or animals who have it behave aggressively. It’s no wonder that so many zombie movies base their walking dead, or living ghouls like in 28 days later, around a rabies like virus.

6. Leucochloridium Paradoxum aka The Thing That Turns into Snail Eyes

Worms are gross. There’s no two ways about it. Humans as a species are diametrically opposed to them, ecologically speaking. Often, what is good for the worm is bad for people. Worms eat our crops, they make our animals sick, and if they don’t do those things directly, they will turn into insects that do. Just be glad we aren’t the amber snail. The Leucochloridium Paradoxum is a parasite that lives inside birds. The birds will poop out the parasite’s eggs, which are then eaten by the snail. The eggs hatch, and the Leucochloridium Paradoxum larvae will pop out of the snail’s head, replacing its eyestalks with its bulbous worm body. The worm then controls the snail, making it crawl out into the open, where it will get eaten by the birds it lives in.

5. Ophiocordyceps Fungus aka Ant Brain Fungus

ant fun
As gross as worms go, there’s something a little more disturbing about this one. The Ophiocordyceps fungus starts out as spores, which will get inside the heads of carpenter ants, found in Brazil and Thailand. The ant will begin to act strange, and eventually wander off from the colony like the last person staggering home from a wild party. The fungus then makes the ant attach itself to the bottom of a leaf. The fungus then grows out of the ant’s head, releases its spores, and the process begins again.
Entire colonies of ants have been known to be wiped out by the Ophiocordyceps fungus. In turn, the ants have figured out how to spot an infected, and will carry the diseased ant far away, so it won’t infect other ants.

4. Sacculina Carcin aka Zombie Castration Barnacle

Barnacles is a cuss word on SpongeBob SquarePants, and it’s a safe bet that it is this particular barnacle that they’re talking about. The Sacculina Carcin is a parasitic barnacle that latches onto the underside of crabs, and turns them into mind controlled, surrogate mothers for their barnacle spawn. And by mothers, I mean mothers. Male crabs are castrated by the barnacle, and all the energy that would have been directed to reproduce, is channeled into making more of the Sacculina Carcin.

3. Cymothoa Exigua the Zombie Tongue Crustaceans

Imagine some other creature latching onto one of your body parts, sucking the blood out of it, until that part of you withers and dies, and then the parasite latches on and replaces the part that was destroyed. That is exactly what the Cymothoa Exigua does with the tongue of the rose snapper fish. The fish is still a fish, mostly, but the tongue now has a mind of its own. The Cymothoa Exigua will eat bits of blood and flesh, as well as reproduce, with others of its species, all while being the fish’s zombie tongue.

2. Parasitic Hairworm (Spinochordodes Tellinii)

Another worm on the list. This time, the victim is the grasshopper. The hair worm larvae live in water, and will latch on to the insides of grasshoppers and crickets, when they stop for a drink. The worm can grow up to 3 or 4 times the length of the host, and once it is mature, it makes the grasshopper jump into water and drown. The hairworm makes its escape from the grasshopper corpse, lays its eggs, and the cycle begins again.

1. Haitian Voodoo Zombies

One of these zombies may not occur in nature, in the same sense as the rest of the list, but the ingredients needed to make a real life human zombie are as natural and organic as anything you would find in Whole Foods. This human zombie is created when a special concoction is given to the victim. The secret of the concoction is the poison of the puffer fish. It has two chemicals, tetrodotoxin and bufotoxin, that can cause a deathlike state for hours or days. When the person finally wakes up, they are easily controlled.
These zombies are the real deal, and it’s not some animal falling victim to parasites or bugs. It’s a human being who is totally controlled by another person. Haitian culture is deeply rooted in Voodoo, a mix of African shamanism and Catholicism. Voodoo dolls, curses, and other magics performed by houngans and mambos (voodoo priests and priestesses) are all a matter of faith. The voodoo zombie, however, has tangible proof. Clairvius Narcisse (1922-1994) spent years in this controlled state, and was used as slave labor on a plantation. He eventually returned home, after 16 years, despite the fact his death had been well documented and verified.
Grab your tinfoil hats folks, because I have to ask. How hard would it be to genetically engineer the food we eat, to have trace amounts of tetrodotoxin and bufotoxin, and turn anyone who eats food into an easily controlled zombie?