With all the discussions these days centering on the revolutions in the Middle East, the crumbling global economies, out of control unemployment, skyrocketing inflation , and a general feeling by the people that the whole fucking world’s gone sideways on us, it is easy to forget the only true threat to our civilization…
In order to prevent our society from falling to a fate of flesh eating abominations wandering the Earth feeding on their non-turned brothers, it is important for all of us to, as Big Sis likes to say, to follow a policy of “See something, Say something”.
So here goes…
The online journal PLoS ONE is reporting that four new species of ant zombiefying fungus has been discovered deep within the Amazon Rainforest. The four new Brazilian species in the genus Ophiocordyceps, named by Dr. Harry Evans and Dr. David Hughes, belong to a group of "zombifying" fungi that infect ants and then manipulate their behavior, eventually killing the ants after securing a prime location for spore dispersal.
These results appear in a paper by Evens and Hughes entitled Hidden Diversity Behind the Zombie-Ant Fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis: Four New Species Described from Carpenter Ants in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
The four new species come from the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil, one of the most heavily degraded biodiversity hotspots on the planet (environmental groups claim that some 92% of the region’s original canopy coverage is no longer there).
According to an article from Science Daily (a website of note):
The effect of biodiversity loss on community structure is well known. What researchers don't know is how parasites, such as these zombie-inducing fungi, cope with fragmentation. Here the authors show that each of the four species is highly specialized on one ant species and has a suite of adaptations and spore types to ensure infection. The life-cycle of these fungi that infect, manipulate and kill ants before growing spore producing stalks from their heads is remarkably complicated. The present work establishes the identification tools to move forward and ask how forest fragmentation affects such disease dynamics.
Zombie Fungi Kill! Kill!
At this point I bet you are sitting there, looking at the screen, wondering what in the name of everything holy does Brazilian zombie fungi that seems to target a specific genus of ants in order to execute its particular part in the ”Circle of Life” have to do with bringing down the Western World???
To quote Jurassic Park (loosely) “… life finds a way…”.
According to the scientists that discovered the fungus, it is currently located in a part of Brazil that has a rapidly changing ecosystem due to the presence of Man. Now what if, while finding it harder and harder to eat the ants it had adapted itself to consume, the fungus begins to evolve its definition of prey and begins to infect Man (a more readily available and heartier host). It would only take a few dozen ”isolated cases” of such an infection to quickly bring a nation as densely populated as Brazil to its knees, with the impoverished and overcrowded ghettos being the first to be decimated.
And the horror show wouldn’t end there…
With Brazil being one of the world’s up and coming economies, it would not be long before the fungal plague will spread around the world, striking the major shipping port communities first.
Within a few months of the initial outbreak, the fungal infection will go global, ravaging the world’s major urban areas and surrounding communities. Hundreds of millions will die; leaving those cursed enough to have somehow survived the infection to wish that they had been so lucky.
(Of course, in the interest of total disclosure, it is also entirely possible that as the ants become harder and harder to find the fungi will be less and less prevalent in the ecosystem, eventually disappearing forever leaving Brazil to become flooded in whatever species of ants this fungi would consume (something tells me that it is a kind of ant that bites the shit out of you). The ant overpopulation will force Brazil to turn to a very toxic pesticide.
While the pesticide was successful in killing off the former fungal prey that had overtaken the jungle nation, it also turned the nation’s once moist and lush turf (ideal for growing the sugar cane the nation not only uses for sugar production but also for creating the world’s best ethanol) into a course sand incapable of sustaining any life.
The poisoned soil will force millions to leave the jungle nation, leaving it to be overrun with wild dogs and roving bands of flesh eating transvestites.)