Science!: Fanged Frogs, Botflies and Tequila

Lauren Admire | 28 Sep 2009 17:00

Because Your Monday Wasn't Creepy Enough

After viewing a midnight showing of "Paranormal Activity" this weekend, I decided that I am sick and tired of supernatural oddities taking all the credit for being the sole source of creepiness. There are plenty of creepy things that exist in regular nature, and on this particular Monday, I'd like to share the creepiest with you.

Creepy Thing #1: Scientists have taken paralyzed rats and taught them to walk again, without using any input from their brain. Control over your limbs is exerted from your brain, which travels down the spinal cord. This emits electrical signals which stimulate your muscles to contract or expand. When the spinal cord is injured, these signals are interrupted. The brain still sends the signals, but your limbs won't receive them. Researchers disabled a group of rats' forelimbs and hooked them up to a treadmill. Using drugs, exercise, and strategically placed electrical impulses, they were able to get the rats to walk again, without any input from their brains.

Not to be outdone, Mother Nature offers us her own version of creepy: phorid flies. Being parasites, and thus dead-beat moms, they lay their eggs in the thorax of a fire ant and fly away. The larva migrates to the brain and starts consuming it. However, a lack of brain doesn't kill the fire ant, it just makes it rather oblivious. After about two weeks of running around aimlessly and being distracted by shiny objects, the larva secretes a chemical that causes the ant's head to fall right off, allowing the larva to pupate into yet another generation of zombie-making parasites. Scientists are eager to introduce phorid flies into the North American population. Both the phorid fly and the red ant are originally indigenous to South America, but were brought to North America, along with Brazilian waxing and supermodels.

If you've never been bitten by a red ant, trust me, it hurts (though, presumably less painful then a bullet ant sting). The University of Texas at Austin has already released phorid ants into red ant populations, and hopefully those guys will start penetrating skulls, stat.

The last creepy thing on my list is the botfly. It is one of the few species of parasitic flies which use mammals as hosts for their larvae. And, yes, there is a kind of botfly which specializes in laying its spawn in humans. That being said, view the following video with extreme caution. And maybe have a toilet or trashcan really near. Botfly Larvae Extracted from Human Head.


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