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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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:iconheytomemeimhome:
Heytomemeimhome Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2015
I feel terrible for snails now, it must be in so much pain... :(
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:iconmesmerizedbynature:
MesmerizedByNature Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
ahaha, that's hilarious! :giggle:
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:iconjoffeorama:
joffeorama Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012
ok this made me laugh way more than most parasite-themed parody songs do
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:iconthe-episiarch:
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. :)
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:iconscythemantis:
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 :)
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:iconthe-episiarch:
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2011
Cool, that's great! Thanks!
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:iconmuffin-wrangler:
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?)
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:iconthe-episiarch:
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]
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:iconmuffin-wrangler:
muffin-wrangler Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010
Great blog, thanks for the link :)
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:iconeluantupy:
EluanTupy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2010
Whoa, that's preety awesome, I should watch Animal Planet a little more :/
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:iconthe-episiarch:
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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:iconeluantupy:
EluanTupy Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2010
There's a program about killer parasites, but I'm not sure if it was on Animal Planet or Discovery Channel.
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:icongreenzaku:
greenzaku Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2010
Oh wow, someone actually drew this! When I first saw this in a documentary, it was so creepy, like a horror show >_>
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:iconthe-episiarch:
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2010
Actually [[link]] above has collected a whole gallery of them on his website here: [link]

My main contributions were simply; (a) I'm actually a parasitologist so I can explain this thing in more details, and (b) I matched it up with that Kelis song which is oddly appropriate!
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:iconbanvivirie:
Banvivirie Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I read this comic called Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, and in one of them there were people getting infected - I remember it so well because it was the only book that was so scary that I literally screamed and threw it across the room because of how graphic the full-page spread was. :noes:
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:iconscythemantis:
scythemantis Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Hilarious, and I love its slobbering zombified expression! I'll add it to my gallery :D
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:iconthe-episiarch:
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010
Cool! Cheers for that!
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:iconcollinbollin:
collinbollin Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
lol i heard of these theres also one that can control an ant lol i remebers captain Higgins right now
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:iconthe-episiarch:
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010
Yep, that's the lancet fluke - Dicrocoelium dendriticum
[link]

There are *so many* different species of mind-controlling parasites - the general public only hear about the tip of the ice berg like Captain Higgins, Leucochloridium, and Toxoplasma gondii
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:iconwingedhippocampus:
WingedHippocampus Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010
Oh God, I remember these things from my biology textbook. Dx Nature can be such a reprehensible bitch.
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:iconthe-episiarch:
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010
Life's a bitch when you're a snail living in a world full of trematodes
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:iconwingedhippocampus:
WingedHippocampus Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010
Damn those trematodes. :shakefist:
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:iconthe-episiarch:
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010
I feel sorry for the snails, but...

Hey, trematodes are cool - they're just trying to make a living like everything else, once you've seen enough of them, you'll realise there's a huge variety of different forms...maybe I should draw some of them...
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:iconmajdik:
Majdik Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2010
I'm happy to see someone sharing my love to parasites :D
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:iconthe-episiarch:
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2010
Well, watch this space because there'll be more to come - after all I study parasites for a living so there's no shortage of material for inspiration!

You might also enjoy the Prasite of the Day blog: [link]
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:iconmajdik:
Majdik Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2010
Thank you for the link, it seems great! I'm going to check it out when I get back from school.
Do you have any field, like focusing more on endoparasites and so on? (sorry for my english..)
I'm still a high school student, but I'd like to study parasitology at the charles university after it.
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:iconthe-episiarch:
The-Episiarch Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2010
Well I've worked with trematodes and other endoparasites these last six years or so, but I've just started a up new lab in a new location. So I'll be exploring what animals live in the local region and what parasites are living in or on them.

Overall, I'm pretty open about what parasitic organisms I do research on whether they are worms or lice, bacterial or fungal. Or whether it is a parasite of animals or plants. Or even if it's a parasitic plant. I tell people "If it lives in or on something, I'm interested!"
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:iconwingedhippocampus:
WingedHippocampus Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010
The snails differ, I'm sure, but yes, for we humans, they can be fascinating. :3 Give those Trematodes some love!
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