Zombie Snail Freaks Out Hiker In Taiwan
Zombies are real and nature is very, very creepy. What would you have done if you saw something like that?
This snail looks like it's out of this world, almost like it's been transformed into a disco ball. But while disco balls are fun, this definitely isn't.
The reason the snail looks so unique is that an insidious parasite has taken up his body.
Lin Ruian was hiking across a hillside in the Changhua County in Taiwan when he spotted the colorful gastropod with "flashing lights" inside its body.
"The snail looked like it had multicolored neon lights inside," Lin Ruian told Viral Press. "I don't know what was causing it but it was very strange. I poked it with a stick and it rolled over."
Biologists say it's not unusual for amber snails to become hosts to the parasitic flatworm, called green-banded brood sac, or leucochloridium paradoxum. This parasite seizes the motor neurons in the snail's eyestalks and induces the colorful pulsating pattern.
You see, the parasite inside the zombie snail mimics a caterpillar and attracts hungry birds. The birds will snatch up the snail's eyestalks and ingest the flatworm, that will use their intestinal tract to reproduce.
While this is very creepy, it is also an interesting phenomenon. According to biologist Tomasz Wesołowski of Poland's Wrocław University, the infected snails behave extraordinarily. They move three times faster than usual - they are practically running! - and intentionally put themselves in dangerous situations. They climb on "on the upper parts of plants and higher elevated places ... [making] them easier to be spotted by foraging birds," says Wesołowski.
What's even more interesting is that the snails survive this horror story. They have incredible regeneration abilities which allow them to grow new stalks and eyespots. And since that is the only part attacked by the parasite, once the worm is eaten by a bird, the snail is cured. That, until it's hijacked by another worm. Yikes!