Date:29 January 2015
Sir David Attenborough and the Planet Earth team discover the weird world of the Cordyceps; killer fungi that invades the body of an insect to grow and diminish the insect population. Fascinating animal and wildlife video from the BBC epic natural world masterpiece ‘Planet Earth’.
The zombie-like fungus takes complete control of its host and forces it to alter its behaviour to suit the optimal survival strategy of the Cordyceps. Generally this means the ants climb high above where they normally tread and are then forced to bite down on a branch to secure them before they die. The Cordyceps then have a high vantage point from where to birth and spew millions of infectious spores more efficiently than if it were done from the forest floor.
Despite the relative simplicity of ant physiology and mental prowess, the fact that a fungus can so completely control what is actually still a very advanced organism, to the point where coordinated movement is totally overridden, is utterly amazing.
Little is known about how the fungus achieves these feats, exactly, but up and until now it has proved to be more of a natural population equaliser than decimater.