Brainwashed by a parasite
December 26, 2007 11:48 PM   Subscribe

Brainwashed by a parasite A look at Cordyceps, a parasitic fungi that infects insects and other arthropods. Don't miss the videos, especially this one. They're the best part.
posted by puke & cry (37 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
*pukes & cries*

posted by cmgonzalez at 11:53 PM on December 26, 2007


Okay, I was having trouble sleeping, now I'm not really worried about that.

I'm going to clean the house now... really... really well.
posted by -t at 12:10 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

Uhm. Er. Well. Um.

It's one thing to read about such things in a book, say, but there's a whole lot of vivid imagery in the pictures and videos you've linked.
posted by davejay at 12:16 AM on December 27, 2007

Will Smith, Angela Bassett & Jon Voight! Next Summer! Get Ready for the invasion! Will Smith, Jon Voight! Spawn of Man!
posted by parmanparman at 12:18 AM on December 27, 2007

Eww fungus. Stroma sounds like a dirty word. Rather tame next to the botfly though...
posted by kurtroehl at 12:25 AM on December 27, 2007

Nemesis Fungus (BG)
[T] [x]: Destroy enchanted Insect, enchant x target Insects with power less than 2 with Nemesis Fungus spore tokens.

sorry, it's been a decade since I've played MtG. . .
posted by panamax at 12:30 AM on December 27, 2007

No wonder I find so many bugs in the pool.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:40 AM on December 27, 2007

In 1985 a biology major friend told me about this fungus. I thought she was making it up. Like most Bio majors she smoked a great deal of organic material.

So, anyway, I based a radio drama horror story on the idea. It aired only once. It was so over the top with a big "deforestation of the rain forest is bad" message with native drums and an eagle "screeeeeee" sound and everything.

See. An evil ambitious logging executive survives a plane crash in the jungle with the help of a kindly Shaman. Exec then betrays the shaman so he can do his evil logging. But the exec gets his comeuppance while riding the elevator up to the 75th floor to sign the big deal. See the fungus he unknowingly contracted in the jungle (an event that was heavily foreshadowed - I mean HEAVILY - like a 2x4 hitting you on the kneecaps) makes his head explode when the elevator "gets to the top."

It was awful. Just awful.

But now I can say "BASED ON TRUE EVENTS!"
posted by tkchrist at 12:40 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

tkchrist: I'll say. A head explosion on the radio, without the graphic gore? What were you thinking??
posted by alexei at 12:46 AM on December 27, 2007

No thanks! I only want brain diseases from cute and furry kitty cats!
posted by Artw at 12:46 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

Bah. It's not mind control until you've got a tiny wasp on your back steering you with your mandibles like a remote controlled car.
posted by seanyboy at 12:59 AM on December 27, 2007

Did anybody else have Praga Khan's Injected with a Poison running though their head while reading this post? No? Just me, then? Okay.
posted by sdodd at 1:21 AM on December 27, 2007

Have any enemies with ant farms?

also, seanyboy, I want video!
posted by clearly at 2:54 AM on December 27, 2007

seanyboy: Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show (QT)
posted by hal9k at 3:15 AM on December 27, 2007

Sorry, seanboy. Misread comment but I can see clearly now.
posted by hal9k at 3:20 AM on December 27, 2007

Are there any *MEOW* simil*MEOW*arities to Toxoplasma *MEOW* gondii?
posted by bonobo at 4:50 AM on December 27, 2007

Awesome. Btw, clicking on the parasite tag takes me to some of my favorite before-breakfast FPPs evar.
posted by psmealey at 4:56 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

See also the Lancet Fluke for an ant parasite that convinces it to climb to the top of a blade of grass. This one does it for a different purpose though.
posted by Hubajube at 4:56 AM on December 27, 2007

Some people will take it for a nice pick-me-up, too. Your mileage, and gag reflex, may vary.
posted by gimonca at 5:40 AM on December 27, 2007

hal9k, nothing is creepier than jumpy 8mm footage of fighting bugs. Thanks for that.
posted by hifiparasol at 6:24 AM on December 27, 2007

I used to work at a vitamin retailer. A distributor gave me a bottle of cordycepts which I still have.

This is extra creepy now!
posted by munchingzombie at 7:28 AM on December 27, 2007

Must cleanse brain now.

Watching those worms made me want to go drwon myself too!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:32 AM on December 27, 2007

They sell that stuff all over China. On every street-corner there is a shady little Tibetan man with "singing bowls" and other trinkets usually sold for exorbatant prices in boutiques across the West laid out on a cloth with ropes sewn to the corners. If the cops come he pulls the ropes and the cloth becomes a bag in seconds. Always, always laid out in the crap is a little bundle of the cordycepts "worms" (really the fungus that has "fossilized" a grub). This the Han Chinese haggle and argue over and end up buying for ridiculous prices, the other stuff doesn;t really sell, it mainly there as an excuse to be selling stuff. Note: they use similar tactics to sell weed in Yunnan.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:40 AM on December 27, 2007

Ah! In the early 90s, a group of Chinese women under the training of Ma Junren rose out of total obscurity, shattered a bunch of distance records and set crazy marks that haven't really been approached since. Performance enhancing drugs were of course suspected. Ma attributed the success of his "army" to hard training, turtle soup, and "caterpillar fungus." I always wondered what he meant by that. Now I know, thanks!
posted by bepe at 7:49 AM on December 27, 2007

There was a very disgusting episode of the X-Files based on these plucky little mushrooms.
posted by xthlc at 7:59 AM on December 27, 2007

I saw this when Planet Earth first aired, and it sufficiently freaked me out that I immediately started pondering how I could work it into a B movie script.

Which, of course, is slang for, 'how can I use this against my co-workers under the guise of research for a script'.
posted by quin at 8:37 AM on December 27, 2007

Funny how all the vaccinations and cures that we humans point to as the great inventions of our time will probably be the things that destroy us in the long run due to role these diseases used to serve in population control.
posted by any major dude at 9:08 AM on December 27, 2007

I just felt sorry for a cockroach. It's a Christmas miracle.
posted by maudlin at 9:45 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's all part of God's plan.
posted by davebush at 10:02 AM on December 27, 2007

This is all completely disgusting and distrubing, but I gotta say this is one of the finest posts I've seen in a while. Strange and fresh. Bravo.
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:16 AM on December 27, 2007

You guys can hate on the fungus all you like, but you'll change your tune when the Buggers come.
posted by LordSludge at 11:41 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Botfly vs Cordyceps is the new Alien vs Predator.
posted by davejay at 12:52 PM on December 27, 2007

For more creepy parasite footage: the Gordian worm infests crickets and makes them jump into water, then swims away. Good times with parasite mind control!
posted by gingerbeer at 1:29 PM on December 27, 2007

Yeah, I neglected to mention the gordian worm videos on there. There's another one where the worm crawls out of a frogs mouth. Pretty gross stuff.
posted by puke & cry at 1:53 PM on December 27, 2007

Cordyceps may be lethal for insects but it is has remarkably beneficial effects when taken as a supplement.

Medicinal Mushrooms Support Cancer Treatment

Recent studies in New Zealand show that a combination of Reishi and Cordyceps extracts had beneficial effects on the quality of life for some advanced cancer patients. Researchers believe that a mixture of the active ingredients from

Cordyceps is not as well researched as Reishi but Cancer Research UK suggests that, 'Cordyceps may be useful for cancer patients due to its enhancement of cell-mediated immunity, oxygen free radical scavenging and support for cellular bioenergy systems'.

Medicinal mushrooms have latent cancer preventative properties. Studies in Japan and Brazil strongly suggest that regular consumption over prolonged periods significantly reduce the levels of cancer incidence.


From Sloan Kettering's site re supplements

Cordyceps stimulates the number of T helper cells, prolongs the survival of lymphocytes, enhances TNF-alpha and interleukin 1 production, and increases the activity of natural killer cells in cultured rat Kupffer cells (3). Enhanced proliferation of erythroid progenitor cell in the bone marrow of mice is also shown (8). One study suggests that cordyceps can stimulate progesterone production in animal cells (5). Another study shows that cordyceps may be effective against tumor celIs by down-regulating MHC class II antigen expression (7). In addition, anecdotal data suggest reduction of cyclosporin and aminoglycoside-induced renal toxicity, although the mechanism of action is not known (4).

Cordyceps is used for a wide range of conditions including fatigue, sexual dysfunction, coughs, and as an adaptogen or immune stimulant. In addition to anecdotal data regarding efficacy, small clinical trials have been performed, but only review articles are available in English (2) (3) (4). No adverse effects have been reported. Although no known drug interactions exist, blood glucose should be monitored in diabetics using cordyceps due to possible hypoglycemic effect (1). In addition, animal studies show proliferation of progenitor red blood cells (8); therefore, Cordyceps should not be used by those with myelogenous type cancers.

posted by nickyskye at 12:32 AM on December 28, 2007

Rekated: The Stink Ant of the Cameroon of West Central Africa (Megolaponera Foetens) from The Museum Of Jurassic Technology.
posted by christopherious at 7:02 PM on December 29, 2007

Er, related.
posted by christopherious at 7:02 PM on December 29, 2007

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