Zombie Animals: Fungi, Insects And Parasites That Resemble The Walking Dead

Huffington Post UK     First Posted: 31/10/11 13:10   Updated: 31/10/11 13:10

Fortunately for humanity, even on Halloween the zombie menace is still basically a fictional threat.

But a look to the animal kingdom might make you think twice.

The natural world is rife with fungi, parasites and insects that survive using many of the same tactics as our fictitious undead enemies, including feasting on the brains of their prey and infecting and reanimating the all-but dead.

From the Cordyceps unilateralis, a fungus that infects ants with spores before controlling its movements, infecting other ants and then exploding through the poor host's head, to the slightly more subtle 'zombie worms' that devour dead whales, there is a horde of zombie-like beasties out there to inspire Hollywood for years.

There are even one or two zombie-likes that might pose a threat to humanity after all...

See our gallery below for the creepiest and scariest real-life zombies that nature has to offer.

Toxoplasma gondii
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Before we come on to the creepy-crawlies, let's first establish that humanity is not entirely safe from the prospect of a real-life zombie outbreak.

Take the parasitic protozoa Toxoplasma gondii, which scientists have estimated infects up to half of all the people on the planet and is also common in cats.

This toxoplasma (yeah, we know, it sounds like something from Resident Evil...) stays with you for life, and is carried in undercooked meat. And unfortunately for us it can also make people more likely to be schizophrenic, can cause pregnant women to give birth to schizophrenic people more regularly and can change your personality by making you more aggressive, jealous, outgoing and can even reduce your reaction times.

Aggressive... slow moving... Outgoing... Sounds like a recipe for zombies to us.

Of course the parasite is nowhere near powerful enough to create a 28 Days Later-style megapocalypse. So there is no need to worry.

Well, not yet.
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