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Do These Nightmare Parasites Hack Snail Brains to Survive? | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Researchers Wanda Weslowska and Tomasz Weslowski took a fresh look at the host manipulation hypothesis in 2013.

For their study, published in the Journal of Zoology, the pair observed wild snails in Poland’s Białowieża National Park. Some of them were known carriers of Leucochloridium broodsacs, while others were free of the parasites.

“The infected snails with pulsating broodsacs behaved differently from their apparently non-infected counterparts,” wrote the authors in their paper. “They moved farther, positioned themselves in more exposed and better illuminated places, situated higher in the vegetation.”

Surely that visibility makes the parasites easier targets for birds. Also, by favoring higher perching spots, the snails — and by extension, the broodsacs — became more accessible to birds flying overhead.

Another study, published in the Journal of Environmental Biology in September 2022, found that Leucochloridium broodsacs pulsate faster under daylight conditions than they do in the dark. Many of the bird species that ingest their larvae hunt by day. So being more active when it’s light outside could help the parasites attract some avian attention.

When all’s said and done, though, there’s a lot we still don’t know about the relationship between the flukes and their hosts.

If these parasites really do influence the snails, which seems likely, how the heck do they do it? Is there mind control at play here, or something else altogether? Do the broodsacs fool wild birds into thinking they’re caterpillars? And if not, then how do adult Leucochloridium find their way to a feathered host’s cloaca?

Maybe we’ll have clear answers someday. In the meantime, there should be more than enough material here to set up a dozen new “Alien” flicks. Your move, Ridley Scott.


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