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Do zombies exist in nature, and if so, what are they, and how do they enter this state of "undeath?" The word zombie first came into the English language in the 1800s, when poet Robert Southey mentioned it in his History of Brazil.
Ophiocordyceps is a species of fungus that infects, controls, and kills carpenter ants. The parasitic fungus takes control of the insect's mind, altering its behavior to make the propagation of fungal spores more likely. Mycologists are counting the species of Ophiocordeps, which has over 200 species.
French researchers have created artificial "cocoons" for Zatypota wasps, which lay eggs on the abdomen of A. eximius spiders. When the egg hatches and the wasp larva emerges, it starts feeding on the spider and begins to take control of its body. The insect turns into a zombie-like creature that is compelled to stray away from its mates and spin the cocoon.
The bacteria — which insects disseminate — infect plants such as goldenrods, which have yellow flowers. The infection causes the goldenrods to put out leaf-like extensions instead of their usual blooms.
Researchers have studied the activity of phytoplasma, a type of insect. Phytoplasmas can grow leaf-like growths that attract more insects, which allows the bacteria to "travel" widely and infect other plants. Researchers are fascinated by how this transformation can bend the host's "will" to make it grow the elements they require to thrive.
Dr. Douyon and Prof. Littlewood examined the three “zombies,” and found that they had not been the victims of an evil spell. Instead, medical reasons could explain their zombification.
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