Mental Floss has a nice two-post line-up of the weirdest mind-controlling parasites that we know of (1, 2). Some will no doubt be familiar to readers of the Loom, but others may be disturbingly new.
Update: Also check out Discover’s own gallery of parasitic horrors.
The fish-tongue has to be the creepiest one, if for no other reason than because the image reminds me of Alien(s).
Also, I think it’s absolutely fascinating how these very simple animals have managed to evolve on a complex enough scale as to actually begin controlling the actions of another creature. Well. Fascinating and horrifying.
Some of these parasites remind me of assorted horror movie I’ve seen over the years. Funny how things that would terrify us if they ever happened to humans are perfectly natural in the insect kingdom.
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Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The Loom. He is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.