Zombie fish flip around and dart toward the surface of the water, seeming to beg for birds to eat them. Zombie crickets, beetles and praying mantises drown themselves in water.
Zombie rats are drawn to the smell of the pee of cats that may devour them. In order to accomplish these tricks, some parasites have evolved the ability to hack into the host’s brain and influence its behavior in very specific ways.
Every parasite has its own method, but the process usually involves altering chemicals within the victim’s brain. Researchers are working hard to identify which chemicals are involved and how they end up so bizarrely altering their host’s behavior.
She is a biologist who studies parasites at Rice University in Houston, Texas. True zombies, she points out, aren’t exactly like the type you find in horror stories.
One parasite causes infected rats to become attracted to the smell of cat pee. This helps the parasite because it needs a cat to eat the rat for its life cycle to continue. User2547783c_812/istockphotoThe horsehair worm, for instance, needs to emerge in water.
To make this happen, it forces its insect host to leap into a lake or swimming pool. Toxoplasma Gandhi (TOX-oh-PLAZ-ma GON-dee-eye) is a single-celled creature that can only complete its life cycle inside a cat.
Biologist Charissa de Bekker wants to better understand how that fungus exerts that mind control over the ants. So she and her team have been studying a species related to the Ophiocordyceps fungus in Thailand.
This is likely due to the fact that trees and plants in this state lose their leaves in the winter. There, her team infected a few species of ant with the South Carolina fungus.
But the fungus made plant-climbing zombies only out of the species that it naturally infects in the wild. To figure out what was going on, DE Becker’s team collected new, uninfected ants of each species.
South Carolina photographer Kim Fleming discovered affected ants in her backyard. When the fungus was exposed to its favorite brains (that is, ones from the ants that it naturally infects in the wild), it released thousands of chemicals.
The experiments at Penn State by DE Becker’s team were the first to create ant zombies in the lab. And the researchers only succeeded after setting up artificial 24-hour cycles of light and darkness for the zombies and their parasites.
It will take more work to learn how the parasite’s chemicals lead to zombie behavior in ants. She now studies ant zombies at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany.
There, she is now probing how that daily cycle of sunlight and darkness affects modification. It spins a nursery of sorts for the wriggly, worm-like wasp baby stuck to its back.
He studies insect behavior and ecology at Kobe University in Japan. The extra strong threads most likely help the larva stay safe until it emerges from its cocoon 10 days later.
In this video, the zombie spider has finished weaving an extra strong web for the wasp larva. The larva then eats the spider’s insides and spins itself a cocoon. Keizo TakasukaThe jewel wasp puts an insect on the menu it serves up to its young: cockroach.
She targets a specific part of the roach’s brain, turning it into a zombie. From the Laboratory of Professor Liberal at Ben Guion UniversityLibersat’s group has focused its research on figuring out what the jewel wasp does to the cockroach mind. That venom might interfere with a chemical in the roach’s brain called dopamine, Liberal reports.
This chemical helps the cockroach stay alert, walk and perform other tasks. When researchers injected a substance similar to dopamine into zombie cockroaches, the insects again began walking.
But Hammersmith, who was not involved in the research, notes that Liberal’s team has worked out this chemical process in more detail than is available for most types of zombie mind control. She studies California billfish infected with a worm called Euhaplorchis Californians (YU-ha-PLOR-kis CAL-ih-for-nee-EN-sis).
An infected fish will still eat normally and stay in a group with its pals. Hammersmith now is working with Gyving Overly at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, in As.
Researchers know what chemical changes should happen to a billfish brain when something, such as the sight of a bird on the prowl, stresses it out. Parasites have developed their control of other creatures’ brains over millions of years of evolution.
The focus of the Zombie Apocalypse Medicine Alliance preventing all forms of control by outside forces through various medical and psychological means. “Zombie Apocalypse Medicine (ZAM) is a theoretically grounded approach to understanding and treating disease in extreme conditions.
These conditions include post-disaster environments, challenging ecological settings such as high altitude and freezing, social conditions characterized by mind control and manipulation and scenarios characterized by highly contagious infectious disease. While all of that sounds sophisticated and futuristic, Antipas warns that disasters, highly contagious infections and mind control are already here and can easily reach modification levels.
From microbes hijacking behavior, to humans influencing each other, to our brains being taken over by social media, we talk about why modification happens, why we are susceptible to it, and what we can do about it. Like a good Scout, she gave AFP some other cheap and easy ways to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse.
“She recommends keeping a go-bag of vital supplies like first aid kits, duct tape that can be used to fashion a shoe or a weapon, and whiskey to sterilize water and wounds (or drink if things get awful).” (Brendan McDermid/Reuters) A protracted economic shock could put more capital in the hands of weak businesses, especially if the Fed expands its drastic mitigation measures. Warren Buffett lives for financial turmoil.
The so-called Oracle of Omaha famously took large positions in Goldman Sachs and General Electric during the 2008 financial crisis, and went on a buying spree during the turbulent recovery. While investors waited for the familiar headline announcing a blockbuster Berkshire Hathaway deal, the investment firm sold more stock than it purchased, building up $137 billion in cash.
Berkshire’s inactivity is a result of the Federal Reserve’s emergency-lending programs, which propped up asset markets and precluded the kind of undervaluation that Buffett seeks out. Buffett praised Fed chair Jay Powell on Saturday for his forceful action, ranking him alongside Paul Volcker as one of the best central-bank helmsmen in modern history.
This financial collapse impaired the collateral held by Japanese banks, corporations, and households, threatening the foundation of the country’s economy. Though the bursting of the bubble represented a return to reasonable valuations, Japanese authorities had their hands tied: If they didn’t intervene to bolster the financial system, economic catastrophe would follow.
Regulators “encouraged the banks to increase their lending to small and medium-sized firms to ease the apparent ‘credit crunch.’” These policy decisions led to the ensuing “lost decades” of near-zero economic growth in Japan. Seeing that they could simply unload bonds to the Fed if the economic outlook soured, investors lined up to provide capital to Boeing and other companies that were facing default just weeks ago.
As Hos hi and Keisha outline, zombies raise the cost of capital for productive firms, decreasing innovation and reducing economic growth. But a protracted economic shock could put more capital in the hands of weak businesses, especially if Powell expands the new lending facilities to include more junk-rated companies.