Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

-C.S. Lewis

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cockroach Zombies

Here is a must read post about a wasp called Ampulex compressa. It could be the coolest insect of all time. It has evoled a mechanism by which it controls the mind of a cockroach to such a degree that it does not bother the cockroach in the slightest bit to be slowly devoured from the inside by the wasp larvae. Hell yeah!!!

And then there's the sting. Ampulex does not want to kill cockroaches. It doesn't even want to paralyze them the way spiders and snakes do, since it is too small to drag a big paralyzed roach into its burrow. So instead it just delicately retools the roach's neural network to take away its motivation. Its venom does more than make roaches zombies. It also alters their metabolism, so that their intake of oxygen drops by a third. The Israeli researchers found that they could also drop oxygen consumption in cockroaches by injecting paralyzing drugs or by removing the neurons that the wasps disable with their sting. But they can manage only a crude imitation; the manipulated cockroaches quickly dehydrated and were dead within six days. The wasp venom somehow puts the roaches into suspended animation while keeping them in good health, even as a wasp larva is devouring it from the inside.
The only other organism that could hope to achieve this level of mind control is Chuck Norris.

12 sided salute to Hedonistica for the fantastic link.

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