The answer is probably, maybe yes. These creepy organisms have some killer tactics, and we learned some of their secrets from NatGeo blogger Ed Yong at TED2014. It was pretty much our favorite thing ever.
Here, an awfully unsavory look at the fascinating world of parasites »
Victim I: Colorful brine shrimp
This brine shrimp (better known as a sea monkey) is prone to the powerful scheming of a parasitic tapeworm. The tapeworm hijacks the shrimp’s body, castrates it, drains it of nutrients, and turns its body bright red. You know, normal parasite stuff.
To get to a flamingo, of course. Flamingos spot (and eat) these bright red shrimp easily, and as you’ve surely guessed, these tapeworms can only reproduce inside a pink flamingo. Ah, romance.
Victim II: Zombie crickets
This poor, poor cricket is about to fall prey to a Gordian worm that’s hiding away in its body.
When the worm has had enough of its host, it’ll turn the cricket into a zombie and force it to drown in the nearest body of water. Then the giant worm will wriggle out and reproduce in the perfect watery conditions. Real charming way to thank a host.
Victim III: Us???
There’s a whole world of mind-controlling parasites — fungi, viruses and insects that manipulate their hosts. So…are there menacing parasites controlling our actions too?
"Given the widespread nature of such manipulations," says Yong in his talk, “it would be completely implausible for humans to be the only species that weren’t similarly affected.”
To which we say:
Watch the full talk here »