Could Zombies exist? Hmm what if

  • Thread starter Majorhavoc
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  • #1
Majorhavoc

Main Question or Discussion Point

Recently I was reading an article on a Virus that not only killed ants but reanimated them and it went as far as to say these ants were walking across the jungle floor dead completely brain dead due to a parasite that got into the brain and first killed the ant,then forced the ant to walk dead and attach itself to the bottoms of leaves where it would incubate for 8 hours, then grow a spore from the head of the dead insect to allow for more infection through a weird type of pollination, this being said..just how long will it be before some Government agency (not saying any in particular) would start to experiment with it on a much larger scale and if so to what demise? Sort of a intriguing thought wouldn't you say?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
wukunlin
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if first year college students I've seen are anything to go by, it's not like they have any brains to lose anyway
 
  • #3
Majorhavoc
Well seeing is believing they say so here check it out

Forgot to mention..I don't know what's more hideous, the ants or the soundtrack..
 
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  • #4
wukunlin
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is this the same thing?

hmmm, can we make some of these to kill mosquitos?
 
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  • #5
Ryan_m_b
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Whilst Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has been colloquially named as creating zombie ants if we take a few minutes to read some peer-reviewed papers we see that this name doesn't reflect the reality. Firstly there are many examples of parasites that change behaviour;
  • The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dicrocoelium_LifeCycle.gif" [Broken] involves it infecting ants and making them climb to the tallest blades of grass so that they can be eaten by cattle.
  • Spinochordodes tellinii must reproduce in water but grows in insects such as grasshoppers. Once fully grown the parasite will encourage the grasshopper to jump far into the water so that it can be released and reproduce (interestingly it doesn't cause the grasshopper to seek water, rather when it sees it it jumps)
  • When a rodent consumes droppings containing Toxoplasma gondii it has its fight or flight response disrupted so a cat can just walk up to it and eat it. This allows the parasite to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Toxoplasmosis_life_cycle_en.svg" [Broken].
As for the so called Zombie ant fungus its behavioural changes are nothing new. The fungus begins to replicate and causes a shift in behaviour resulting in the ant leaving the colony to find a suitable spot. It will climb onto a leaf or stem and trigger an intense clamping action with it's mandibles (there's a picture in one of the videos you linked of an ant doing this to another ant but this is an unusual accident). Then the ant dies allowing the fungus to grow and sporulate, however the spores of O. unilateralis cannot be carried by the wind and so just settle in the surrounding area. Other ants that walk through then become infected and perform the same death activity nearby. The result is areas called "graveyards" where for tens of metres plants are covered in dead fungus ants.

For more info http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0017024" [Broken] of infected ants.

As interesting and disgusting as this is it is a far cry from reanimated corpses running around to feast on the living I'm afraid. Also parasites evolve in very intense and complicated life cycles with multiple hosts at multiple life stages. It's therefore very science fiction to suggest that some clandestine government agency would be able to engineer a virus to work in humans; when they've evolved for the biology and nervous system of several different animals many of which not mammals adapting it to humans for zombification purposes would pretty much require you to invent such a disease from scratch.

Having said that the rabies virus can induce rage like behaviour with diminished cognitive function but it also causes flu like symptoms, delirium and death.
 
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  • #6
FlexGunship
Gold Member
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Whilst Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has been colloquially named as creating zombie ants if we take a few minutes to read some peer-reviewed papers we see that this name doesn't reflect the reality. Firstly there are many examples of parasites that change behaviour;
  • The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dicrocoelium_LifeCycle.gif" [Broken] involves it infecting ants and making them climb to the tallest blades of grass so that they can be eaten by cattle.
  • Spinochordodes tellinii must reproduce in water but grows in insects such as grasshoppers. Once fully grown the parasite will encourage the grasshopper to jump far into the water so that it can be released and reproduce (interestingly it doesn't cause the grasshopper to seek water, rather when it sees it it jumps
  • When a rodent consumes droppings containing Toxoplasma gondii it has it's fight or flight response disrupted so a cat can just walk up to it and eat it. This allows the parasite to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Toxoplasmosis_life_cycle_en.svg" [Broken].
As for the so called Zombie ant fungus its behavioural changes are nothing new. The fungus begins to replicate and causes a shift in behaviour resulting in the ant leaving the colony to find a suitable spot. It will climb onto a leaf or stem and trigger an intense clamping action with it's mandibles (there's a picture in one of the videos you linked of an ant doing this to another ant but this is an unusual accident). Then the ant dies allowing the fungus to grow and sporulate, however the spores of O. unilateralis cannot be carried by the wind and so just settle in the surrounding area. Other ants that walk through then become infected and perform the same death activity nearby. The result is areas called "graveyards" where for tens of metres plants are covered in dead fungus ants.

For more info http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0017024" [Broken] of infected ants.

As interesting and disgusting as this is it is a far cry from reanimated corpses running around to feast on the living I'm afraid. Also parasites evolve in very intense and complicated life cycles with multiple hosts at multiple life stages. It's therefore very science fiction to suggest that some clandestine government agency would be able to engineer a virus to work in humans; when they've evolved for the biology and nervous system of several different animals many of which not mammals adapting it to humans for zombification purposes would pretty much require you to invent such a disease from scratch.

Having said that the rabies virus can induce rage like behaviour with diminished cognitive function but it also causes flu like symptoms, delirium and death.
But... zombies... :frown:
 
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  • #8
Evo
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Mind control wasps.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMG-LWyNcAs
 
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  • #9
Chronos
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Remember the one [1000 ways to die] where beavis and butthead snorted fire ants to emulate a famous musician? That set off my zombie alarm.
 
  • #10
256bits
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Remember the one [1000 ways to die] where beavis and butthead snorted fire ants to emulate a famous musician? That set off my zombie alarm.
Beavis and Buthead. Used to watch that on Much Music channel late at night. Missed the fireant episode though.
And the following program had this guy with the big head where the alien used to live, kind of like the fungus, but it was a symbiotic relationship. Another character had a cleaver through his head. A whole bunch of odd characters who should have been zonbies come to think of it now.
 
  • #11
172
1
The image is too large to hotlink, but this reminded me of this comic:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2331

Oh, and in popular culture, zombie doesn't necessarily mean reanimated corpse anymore. Many movies involve behavior-changing viruses that basically kill off the mind, but keep the body alive to shamble around and devour brains.
 
  • #12
even so, if zombies did exist, a zombie invasion 9or a sucesful one at that) would be immpossible considering, when you have factors of, putrification in the walking corpse, the heat would only accelerate the proscess, and yes some might say, what about in winter, well in the cold, muscles tend to tense up, so that would only slow them down, so in any case, even if the government made some sort of zombie virus, we wouldnt have much to worry about :D
 
  • #13
VegetableSgt.
As a matter of fact, we can have something to worry about if the zombie virus affects your next door neighbour. How stiff will they be once they enter your well-heated house? Sure they still will practically be incased in frost/ice in places like Russia, when they melt, they will still be bloodthirsty. Reanimation of deceased cells is scary business, particularly when they can reproduce by means of meosis. Besides, in mild weather, even if you had some weapon that could tear the flesh from bones e.g. MG42, cells will still be after you. What I'm trying to say is you can never completely destroy a structure of cells in the human body using any improvised weapon.
the safest way to defend yourself against the undead, is lock yourself in a bamboozling defensive structure that is too much for the simple-minded zombies. After all, how can one of the undead destroy one of those titanium walls you see in movies? Swarms would be pointless if they can't even figure out a passcode to access of human flesh much less figure out a rubic cube puzzle. trust me, i've tried... Anyway, i reserve the right to be incorrect. Tell me if i am- no-one learns by being ignorant. :D
 
  • #14
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0
....As interesting and disgusting as this is it is a far cry from reanimated corpses running around to feast on the living I'm afraid..
If a fungus can destroy a brain and can make an animal go to a very specific spot and bite down and wait to die or be eaten, what makes you think it couldn't destroy a higher brain (human), make it go to a very specific spot (malls) and bite down (brains) while waiting to die (be shot in the head)?
 
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  • #15
A zombie virus already exists. It's called rabies.
even so, if zombies did exist, a zombie invasion 9or a sucesful one at that) would be immpossible considering, when you have factors of, putrification in the walking corpse, the heat would only accelerate the proscess, and yes some might say, what about in winter, well in the cold, muscles tend to tense up, so that would only slow them down, so in any case, even if the government made some sort of zombie virus, we wouldnt have much to worry about :D
On the contrary, if you had a government with the motive and capabilities of engineering a zombie virus, you'll have so much to worry about, the idea of zombies will seem a little tame.
 
  • #16
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0
Who says zombies rot. They don't rot in any movie I have seen. Evidently whatever causes the zombie state also prevents bacterial infection. They should be studied for new antibiotics and preservatives.

Of course those are dead zombies. There are also live zombies. There is some credible evidence that a zombie state can be induced with a Haitian voodoo concoction containing Puffer fish poison.
 
  • #17
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Zombies exist but not in the Hollywood sense. There was a science show that studied voodoo shamans. They said they made people their zombie slave by blowing some powder into their face. The ingredients of the powder included puffer fish poison known to cause paralysis and death. Taken in small amounts the person could feel enough paralysis that the heart would appear stopped.

In Haiti, a doctor said he treated a patient for a broken leg that he knew had died years earlier and the patient said that he was under the spell of a shaman and died but was resurrected by the shaman and made his slave.it was only recently that the shaman had died and he was freed.

So zombie ism seemed to be mostly hypnotic control of a subject using the puffer fish poison to instill the belief that they died and were resurrected.
 
  • #18
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i think the toxin wears off after time. There was a wrestler in Japan who ate a bad dich of fugu (puffer fish) and was paralized but survived thats when doctors realized that someone could survive.
 
  • #19
Ryan_m_b
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Zombies exist but not in the Hollywood sense. There was a science show that studied voodoo shamans. They said they made people their zombie slave by blowing some powder into their face. The ingredients of the powder included puffer fish poison known to cause paralysis and death. Taken in small amounts the person could feel enough paralysis that the heart would appear stopped.

In Haiti, a doctor said he treated a patient for a broken leg that he knew had died years earlier and the patient said that he was under the spell of a shaman and died but was resurrected by the shaman and made his slave.it was only recently that the shaman had died and he was freed.

So zombie ism seemed to be mostly hypnotic control of a subject using the puffer fish poison to instill the belief that they died and were resurrected.
i think the toxin wears off after time. There was a wrestler in Japan who ate a bad dich of fugu (puffer fish) and was paralized but survived thats when doctors realized that someone could survive.
Interesting. Do you have links/citations for any of this so that the rest of us could see?
 
  • #20
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it was a part of a show I saw on cable. I think history channel around Halloweentime a few years ago. It included science explanations of werewolfs (a kid in africa at 5 raised by monkeys, had hair all over his body due to a monkeys limited diet and with fully knowledge of monkey behavior).

and on ghostly presence with an example of a lab tech discovering low freq sound coming from a recently installed ceiling fan. He said initially he thought there was someone in the room. He felt the back hairs of neck tingle like someone brushed by him. Later, when machining a part he noticed it vibrating in the vise and discovered the source of vibration as the newly installed fan.

I found this reference on youtube for the zombie stuff:

 
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  • #21
s09
25
0
Like anything that moves, a zombie will need energy to be able to continue to move around for months (years?). Where will it get this energy? I have yet to see a zombie that grows its own carrots :)

The idea of zombies in sci-fi are not plausible. However, using something to alter your thought patterns is very possible and has been done in the past.
 
  • #22
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Interesting. Do you have links/citations for any of this so that the rest of us could see?
This article is a bit on the soft side, but I saw an interview with the "zombie" in question on TV a few years back (a guy who disappeared and then returned years later saying he'd been a zombie slave).

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2004/12/09/1260445.htm

I'm not sure what toad skin might do but the effects of puffer fish poisoning are reasonable well documented. Captain Cook tried some once on his second voyage:

T A Torda et al (Medical Journal of Australia 1973; 1: 599-602) quote a vivid description of puffer fish poisoning from Captain Cook’s journal of his second voyage. On 7 September 1774, an unfamiliar fish was obtained from natives of newly discovered New Caledonia. Before it was cooked, Mr Forster, the ship’s naturalist, examined the specimen:

“...luckily for us the operation of drawing and describing the fish took so much time that it was too late so that only the liver and roe was dressed of which Mr. Forster and myself did but taste. About three to four o’clock in the morning, we were seized with most extraordinary weakness in all our limbs attended with numbness of sensation like to that caused by exposing one’s hands and feet to a fire after having been pinched much by frost. I had almost lost the sense of feeling nor could I distinguish between light and heavy objects, a quart pot full of water and a feather was the same in my hand. We each took a vomit and after that a sweat which gave great relief. In the morning one of the pigs which had eaten the entrails was found dead.”
http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/177_11_021202/isb10423_fm.pdf [Broken]

Hard to say how much a "taste" was, but if they'd eaten all the roe and liver, they'd have ended up like the pig, no doubt.
 
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  • #23
Pythagorean
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As far as I knew, the powder made them appear dead to local doctors with limited technology. They'd then be buried, and would rise out of the grave (if possible) after it wore off. This is why people thought they were "walking dead".

I think any longer effects were just psychological. If I'm there when you come out of the grave, I might be able to persuade you into slavery.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Serpent_and_the_Rainbow_(book [Broken])
 
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  • #24
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As far as I knew, the powder made them appear dead to local doctors with limited technology. They'd then be buried, and would rise out of the grave (if possible) after it wore off. This is why people thought they were "walking dead".
From my link:

The victims soon appear dead, with an incredibly slow breath, and an incredibly slow and faint heartbeat. In Haiti, people are buried very soon after death, because the heat and the lack of refrigeration makes the bodies decay very rapidly. This suits the zombie-making process. You have to dig them up within eight hours of the burial, or else they'll die of asphyxiation.
I don't get the impression they would ever recover on their own enough to dig themselves out.

I think any longer effects were just psychological. If I'm there when you come out of the grave, I might be able to persuade you into slavery.
Back in Haiti, once you've got the zombie-in-waiting out of the ground, you make them mad, by force-feeding them a paste made from datura (Jimsons Weed). Datura breaks your links with reality, and then destroys all recent memories. So you don't know what day it is, where you are and, worst of all, you don't even know who you are. The zombies are in a state of semi-permanent induced psychotic delirium. They are sold to sugar plantations as slave labour. They are given datura again if they seem to be recovering their senses.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2004/12/09/1260445.htm

The guy I saw interviewed spoke of considerable brainwashing. When drugged he was repeated told he was dead, had been raised by the witch doctor, and had no will of his own: he could only do what his masters told him.
 

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