Why Are The Zombie Ant Fungi Dying?

Senior Contributor
03.07.11

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a fungus in the Amazon that infects ants, takes over their brains, makes them do things, and then kills them, feeding off the ant’s body and firing off spores to infect other ants, thus repeating the cycle.

As gross and terrifying as that sounds, it is also kinda neat, and we just discovered that there are not one, but four different species of ant-zombie fungus, some that fire zombifying arrow spores and others that fire zombifying caltrop spores. And they’re all dying!

The problem is that the fungi are very fussy. They want to be on a leaf at a precise height, with the sun at a precise angle, and grow in a precise level of humidity. That last one is the problem: as climate change advances, it’s drying out the rainforest and the fungi are less than happy.

So they might mutate and start pumping their psychotropic mind-control drugs into people. OK, that’s nearly impossible, but not totally impossible. Oh, also, these zombie machines also have given us compounds to cure cancer, so there’s also that.

[ via the mind-controlling shroom eaters at Wired ]

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