Reality Can Trump Fiction...

>> Saturday, March 11, 2017

And nowhere I know of is that more true than in biology. Folks, there's some freakish stuff out there.

Some years ago, early in my blogging days, a fellow blogging nerd (that was the name of her blog: Observations of a Nerd) posted a series called "This Week's Sci-Fi Worthy Parasite." She was/is a marine biologist and moved on, but the blog is still in place with all it's glories intact.

Yeah, sure, you can get nightmares watching zombie movies or reading about real serial killers (I can recommend a good book but I know I can't read but a few pages at a time: Hunting Humans: An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers), but, if you REALLY want to never sleep again and curl up with your eyelids held open with toothpicks and a can of Raid in either hand, check out her blog.

Included in her honest-to-God real world of actual nasties are:
  • flies that turn ants into zombies before decapitating them (Phorid Flies) - these are actually under consideration for fire ant control.
  • Parasitic wasps which not only eat catapillars and maggots from the inside out, but coat their eggs with a virus to disable the host's immune system and castrate it. Before the caterpillar finishes up, he'll spin a cocoon to protect his invaders and even defend them 'til they finally take him down. There's a spider killer that makes the spider build it a nice platform for the cocoon. (she really likes the parasitic wasps)
  • Lice (not talking about it or I'll start to itch)
  • Human botfly where mosquitoes deliver a human flesh-eating parasite (there are videos)
  • Schistosomiasis where bunches of burrowing parasites travel through our blood systems and infest our liver, copulating and generally having a blood bender at our expense.

  • The brain-eating amoeba Naegleria Fowleri (shown up in a couple of medical shows but the transmission method and survivability was whacked) - this is ameobic meningitis and it takes no prisoners because it tells your brain it belongs there and your brain goes, "never mind then" until it's too late. I wanted to infect a character with this and let him survive, but my husband absolutely put his foot down. No amoebas were going to eat his favorite character's brain. They are bad to the bone, though.
  • The loa loa worm, aka the African eye worm. Do I have to explain?
  • Cookie cutter sharks that literally take a divot of flesh from the unsuspecting
  • Hairworm - using zombie control again, this time on grasshoppers its eaten from the inside
  • The Mountain Acon Blue Butterfly which convinces red ants to drop everything and feed it like a queen using her forms of chemical and aural communication.
  • Pearlfish that literally make their homes in the anuses of sea cucumbers and starfish (and, some of them chow down on their hosts while they're there. No need to go out for dinner. We'll eat in.)
  • A parasite that "kills" a fish's tongue and then takes it's place, acting like a normal tongue and keeping the fish alive for further feeding.

  • The human (and other flesh) eating screwworm, basically maggots that favor living flesh, or at least until they're through with it. (Yuck)
  • The toothpick fish which is attracted to ammonia products and attach itself via spines to dig it's way in until it reaches a blood vessel. That's some pretty painful digging whether your its intended prey (fish) or a human. 
Really, you could read for hours. I'm having to stop myself .

Now, I've mentioned them before, but, here's the good part, trying to find them again allowed me to stumble over another collection of biological oddities: Absurd Creature of the Week on Wired. Jackpot! Not just parasites (though those, too) but all kinds of odd critters. You don't even have to be a writer to have a good time.

Actually, both the blog and the column on Wired are very entertaining reading in addition to being educational. And, on that note, I'll leave you with this video.

You're welcome.


  • Roy

    Heh, heh! There's a show on the Animal Planet channel called Monsters Inside Me that covers this subject, too. I've watched it in bits every now and then, but it's pretty easy to get creeped out at the thought of some of these plug uglies crawling around inside the human body, and eating as they crawl. (((shudder)))

  • Roy

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Stephanie Barr

    Roy, it's not like I didn't warn people.

    But it is entertaining reading and so much story fodder.

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