Real-Life Zombies: 10 Examples of Mind Control in Nature

Zombie Snails Controlled by Parasitic Worms

(images via: wikipedia)

Yes, there is something very wrong with that snail’s tentacle. It’s not the snail’s tentacle at all; it’s the Leucochloridium paradoxum worm, otherwise known as the green-banded broodsac. This parasitic worm travels into the digestive system of its snail host and grows into a long tube filled with tens to hundreds of reproductive ‘cercariae’. The tube then invades the snail’s tentacle and puts on a bizarre, swollen, pulsating display meant to attract the attention of birds. The birds that eat the snails then become hosts for the next phase of the worm’s growth; the cercariae lay eggs that are transmitted through the bird’s waste back down onto plants, where they’re transmitted to snails, keeping the circle intact.

Mischaracterized Mental Illness

(image via: tallpomlin)

There have actually been documented, real-life cases of zombies in Haiti, but as you may already suspect, the cases weren’t really what they seemed. One woman who died at thirty and was buried on the same day resurfaced three years later walking around her village, appearing mute and unable to feed herself; her facial marks were recognized by friends and family. A 26-year-old man became ill with fever and died after three days; 19 months later, he reappeared at a nearby cockfight, accusing his father and uncle of zombifying him. And another woman became ill after attending prayers for a neighbor who had been ‘zombified’. She died at 18, but resurfaced 19 months later claiming to have been kept as a zombie in a village 100 miles to the north. Researchers suspected that the subjects actually suffered from a combination of physical and mental illnesses including schizophrenia, epilepsy and brain damage, and two of the three turned out to be cases of mistaken identity.

Wasps Control and Kill Caterpillar, Alien-Style

(images via: wikipedia)

Imagine parasitic beings laying their eggs inside you, which hatch into hungry larvae that feed on your bodily fluids. Then, the larvae eat through your skin and emerge from your body, Alien-style. That’s what actually happens to poor little caterpillars when they’re chosen as targets by the Glyptapanteles wasp – but that’s not even the end. After the larvae climb onto nearby branches or leaves and cocoon themselves, the zombified caterpillars remain controlled by them. Instead of going on about their business, they hover over the cocoons to protect them. Once the wasps hatch as adults, the caterpillars finally die.

Zombifying Puffer Fish Toxin

(images via: ciamabue)

The second-most poisonous vertebrates in the world, puffer fish contain a toxin in their skin, ovaries, gonads and liver that’s 1,000 times more deadly than cyanide. One fish can kill thirty people. That toxin, tetrodotoxin, causes a tingling numbness that grows into full-fledged paralysis, one body part at a time. It’s been called ‘zombie powder’ because the toxin could theoretically paralyze someone enough to make them appear dead. In some subjects, according to Dr. Wade Davis – the man whose work inspired the zombie movie ‘The Serpent and the Rainbow’ – the toxin can wear off, leading the victim to wake up and emerge from their coffins. Davis theorized that this powder could be behind reported cases of zombies in Haiti and Africa. However, it’s not clear whether this is actually possible.