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Submitted on
October 8, 2010
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Zombie snail parasite by The-Episiarch Zombie snail parasite by The-Episiarch
The adorable Leucochloridium paradoxum - everyone's favourite mind-bending parasite. Parasites that manipulate the behaviour of their host always get one of those "Wow, freaky nature huh?"-reaction from the general public. Then they move on, taking note of that story to save for a cocktail party or something. However, for those of us in the know, the less palatable truth is that parasites that take control of their hosts appears to be the norm rather than the exception.

Leucochloridium paradoxum is a digenean trematode which uses a land snail as both their first intermediate host (where they undergo clonal multiplication) and second intermediate host (the means to reach the definitive host - where it can get up to hanky panky with other worms of its own species). Our intrepid parasite first castrates the unfortunate snails, leaving intact only the organs necessary to keep it alive, then takes control of its behaviour to try and convince a bird that it is in fact a pair of tasty caterpillars.

Here's a fun fact - there are over 15000 described species of digenean trematodes (with many, many more undescribed species) and they all (except for half a dozen or so species) use either a gastropod (e.g: a snail) or a bivalve (e.g: a clam) obligately as first intermediate host in their life-cycles. And all of them, all FIFTEEN THOUSAND of them, zombifies their molluscan first host completely - at least in body, if not in their mind as well.

You think you are looking at a snail? Hah! You're looking at a worm in snail's clothing, a parasite *wearing* a snail.

Body-snatching monsters in fiction holds no horror for me - they exist in reality, and I confront them on a daily basis - after all, it's my day job.
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MesmerizedByNature Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
ahaha, that's hilarious! :giggle:
joffeorama Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012
ok this made me laugh way more than most parasite-themed parody songs do
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012
Thanks! I didn't even know that "parasite-themed parody songs" was a thing - but regardless, I'm glad that you were amused by my little drawing. :)
scythemantis Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I had uploaded it, but somehow forgot to update my Leucochloridium page all this time! [link] it's there now :)
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2011
Cool, that's great! Thanks!
muffin-wrangler Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010
Damn right, it's cata-pillahs,
They can eat you,
Take the parasites far!

My favourite is the multiple levels of parasitism you get in wasps (specific of a parasite of a parasite of a parasite of a host, anyone?)
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010
Ha! Nice. Yeah, parasites of parasites = hyperparasites

"Yo dawg, I heard you like parasites - So I put a parasite in your parasite, so it can get parasitized while it parasitizes!"

And it's not just in wasps either, there are many other examples. I actually wrote about one such hyperparasite for the Parasite of the Day blog here: [link]
muffin-wrangler Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010
Great blog, thanks for the link :)
EluanTupy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2010
Whoa, that's preety awesome, I should watch Animal Planet a little more :/
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2010
Thanks for the fave! Animal Planet barely scratch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to parasitism - but that's already plenty to deal with if you aren't already familiar with the wonders of parasites.

You should check out this link here: [link]
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