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Why The Last of Us fungus is improbable

May 08, 2017 1 min read

[Promoted from our blogs: Do you even science, bro?]

Cordyceps is a fungal pathogen that attacks insects, using them as food to grow a fungal stalk and spread fungal spores across an area-thereby infecting more hosts. In its most dramatic-and perhaps most famous-form, it actually manipulates the behavior of an ant. Look at it:

The ant will crawl up to a place high above the ground, where the Cordyceps is happiest and has its best growing conditions, and slowly a fungal body emerges as the ant locks in place and dies. Should the ant be stunned beforehand, ants will quickly pick it up and move it far away to prevent the Cordyceps from wiping out the entire colony.

It’s a dramatic pathogen, and it’s one that captures the imaginations of many-from Parasect in Pokémon to the team at Naughty Dog. 

Why The Last of Us fungus is improbable screenshot