Deadly Fungus Turns Creatures Into ‘Zombie Ants’

By , in Animals on . Tagged width: ,

If you were thinking that zombies walking around are only for the scary movies, well you will be surprised to learn that the condition that turns creatures into mindless zombies actually exists. You can find it in nature, in ants, for instance.

New research that has been published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, says that ants that come in contact with the deadly fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis have their jaw muscles taken over until the creatures eventually die.

The study’s lead author is Colleen Mangold, and she said that the fungus does not attack their brains directly.

Mandibular muscles are colonized by the fungus 

Instead, “the mandibular muscles of infected ants are extensively colonized by the fungus,” she stated.

Experts found that the infected muscles have shown evidence of hyper contraction as the ants were clamping their jaws tightly onto a twig or something else.

“Despite the extensive colonization, both motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions appear to be maintained,” according to the study’s abstract.

“Infection results in sarcolemmal damage, but this is not specific to the death grip. We found evidence of precise penetration of muscles by fungal structures and the presence of extracellular vesicle-like particles, both of which may contribute to mandibular hypercontraction.”

It was also reported that the ant dies in the end as it’s being consumed from withi8n by this horrible fungus.

Spores of the deadly fungus look for a new host 

Just to make things even worse, spores of the deadly fungus are dropping below from the stalk that grows out of the dead ant, and it’s hoping to find a brand new host.

The fungus can be found in ants that are living in tropical climates such as Africa, Brazil, and Thailand as well.

This study is basically a follow up on another research dating back in 2017, which analyzed the deadly effects of the fungus.

Rada Mateescu

I have been blogging and posting articles for over eight years, but my passion for writing dates back in 2000. I am especially enthusiastic about technology, science, and health-related issues. When I’m not researching and writing the latest news, I’m either watching sci-fi and horror movies or checking out places worth visiting and building deep memories for later in life. I believe in empathy and continually improving myself.