Here’s an incredible story from the Amazon about zombie ants whose bodies are taken over by a fungus that forces them to attach themselves to certain leaves before the fungus comes exploding out their heads and reproduces.
The story, published here in the NY Daily News quotes a report in LiveScience.com and says:
“Scientists have discovered species of fungi that infect ants, taking control of their muscles, forcing them to wander the jungle floor in search of a perfect place for the fungus to propagate. That perfect place is the underside of certain leaves. When the fungus finds a leaf, it forces the ant to bite down on the leaf’s main vein, locking it into position.”
The fungus “can literally burst out of the ant’s head to begin the growth of the spore-releasing stalk,” said David Hughes, a study researcher from Pennyslvania State University.
Hughes said the final bite takes place around noon, meaning the fungal parasite is synchronised with the sun. That ensures the fungus has a long cool night ahead of it during which it bursts out the ant’s head and allows the spore-releasing stalk to grow.
Amazing. Just when you thought you’d heard it all…