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Thread: Zombie rodents: Parasite hijacks brains with surgical precision

  1. #1
    popopot's Avatar To Me, To You BT Rep: +5
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    From: http://www.newscientist.com/article/...precision.html

    A mere parasite controls the fate of rats and mice by hijacking the part of the brain that makes the rodents naturally fear cats, a new study shows.
    Rats and mice normally flee if they smell cat urine, but not if they're infected by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite can only complete its life cycle if its rodent host is eaten by a cat, so it "brainwashes" the creature into apparently liking the scent.


    Now Ajai Vyas and his colleagues at Stanford University in California, US, have revealed that the brainwashing is surgically precise. The parasites seem to reverse the rodent's innate fear by interfering with the amygdala, the seat of conditioned responses in the brain. Vyas's team looked at the distribution of the parasite in the brain of infected rats, and found it was almost twice as dense in the amygdala.


    The exquisite precision leaves intact all other neurological mechanisms for learning to avoid danger, so the rodents learn to survive all hazards except being eaten by cats – the only form of death beneficial to the parasite.

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    Snee's Avatar Error xɐʇuʎs BT Rep: +1
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    Wow.

    Evolution FTW. I wonder how that came to be.

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    manker's Avatar effendi
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    That is pretty cool - one wonders, tho', if the humble flea isn't more advanced in an evolutionary sense.

    After all, it can spend it's entire life cycle on a cat.
    I plan on beating him to death with his kids. I'll use them as a bludgeon on his face. -

    --Good for them if they survive.

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    Gripper's Avatar Dexter's Apprentice.
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    Wonder if they've got an enzyme to keep cats off the garden?

    All spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in my post's are intentional.

  5. Lounge   -   #5
    popopot's Avatar To Me, To You BT Rep: +5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gripper View Post
    Wonder if they've got an enzyme to keep cats off the garden?
    I'd buy that for a dollar! Fu*king ba*tards keep crapping all over the place.

  6. Lounge   -   #6
    100%'s Avatar ╚════╩═╬════╝
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    This parasite could be the long awaited solution which can end the war between Cats and Dogs.

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