Today is my one month blog anniversary! Yay! In honor of this occasion, I decided to post about something very fun: ZOMBIE SNAILS.
(GIF from giphy)
The parasite in question is the trematode Leucochloridium paradoxum, which is also called the green-banded broodsac. The adult trematode lives in birds, and parasite eggs are shed in the birds’ feces. Snails consume the eggs, and get infected with the intermediate parasite stages. If you’re interested in trematode life cycles, you’ll find the details of the sporocyst to cercariae stages BIZARRE. Check out this blog, if you’re interested.
Anyways, the parasite does two things to manipulate the snail. First, it makes the snail hang out in the open, exposed to predation. Second, it turns the snail’s antennae into psychedelic, pulsating, caterpillar-like beacons of yum for birds. Birds nip off the antennae full of cercariae (infective parasite stages), get infected, and the life cycle continues. Awwwwwesome.
You really need to watch this short video about zombie snails before you can consider your life complete.
So far, I haven’t gotten any comments on my blog. My goal this month is to get some feedback from my wonderful audience. To break the ice, I’m going to start with a poll. So, how do you feel about zombie snails?