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Mozquitoo: Zombie Fungus

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Zombie Fungus

A stalk of the newfound fungus species Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani, grows out of a "zombie" ant's head in a Brazilian rain forest.

Originally thought to be a single species, called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, the fungus is actually four distinct species—all of which can "mind control" ants—scientists announced Wednesday.

Picture of a "zombie" ant, part of a round-up of the best science discoveries of 2011

This is a dead carpenter ant attached to a leaf in the understory of a Thai forest. Before killing the ant, the fungus growing from ant's head changed the ant's behavior, causing it to bite into the leaf vein. (Credit: David Hughes, PennState University)

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