'Zombie Ants' Found in Brazil

Fungus takes over brain, forces ants to relocate
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2011 2:14 PM CST
'Zombie Ants' Found in Brazil
This is just an ant ... not a "zombie ant."   (Getty Images)

First, the fungus takes over the ant’s brain. Then, it uses “mind control” to force the ant to move to a new location—an ideal location where the fungus can grow and its spores can spread. Finally, the fungus kills the ant—and then grows out of its head. Sounds like something out of a sci-fi Movie of the Week, but it’s real, scientists report in a new study. Researchers found four species of fungus that do just that in a Brazilian rain forest. National Geographic has pictures.

"This potentially means thousands of zombie fungi in tropical forests across the globe await discovery," the study leader says. "We need to ramp up sampling—especially given the perilous state of the environment." (Want more "zombie" science? Click to read about "zombie DNA.")

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