One of the better known examples of a living host losing control of its functions via an external parasite, is the ophiocordyceps – a parasitic fungus known for invading and corrupting the brain of individual insects. The fungus really is an incredible, if terrifying, organism. In order to complete its cycle and increase its chances of successful pollination, the ophiocordyceps needs to get to a position high above the detritus covered floor of the African rainforest. It does this in a remarkable way. Spores from the fungus infect insects, for example ants, and essentially re-wire their behavior. The ants no longer follow the instruction of the hive, but instead the spores ‘instruct’ the ant to climb a stalk and hang from the underside of a leaf about 25 centimeters (10 inches) above the rainforest floor. The spores then kill the ant, using its body to grow a tendril out of its head. After several weeks, the fungus has fully grown and releases its own spores to repeat the cycle. Ophiocordyceps has been known to wipe out entire colonies of ants.

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