Five real cases of zombies around the world

Zombies today are a big part of our pop culture: The Walking Dead, Call of Duty, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, The Last of Us, ZNation, Resident Evil - there are countless games, movies and series featuring the living dead. Zombies really mess with the human imagination.

The most bizarre thing is that in real life there are some cases similar to zombies, and technically we can actually call it zombification.

Learn about five of these bizarre, yet real cases:

1. Zombie ants

Imagine that you are walking in nature when you step on a spore of a fungus that controls minds and that spore sticks to your body - now, you have a pet parasite.

This may seem out of this world, but it is not so far fetched. The fungi genus Ophiocordyceps, with emphasis on the most famous species, unilateralis, hijack the minds of carpenter ants.

However, in the beginning, everything develops in a rather mundane way. The ant minds its own business, collecting leaves to feed its fungus crop, building anthills.

The game changes when the fungus reaches half of the ant's body mass. From that point, the fungus takes over. One shiny day the fungus forces the ant to climb a plant, attach its jaw to a leaf and then its head explodes, spreading the fungus spores to catch new victims.

2. Zombie spiders

The victims this time are innocent tropical spiders. The culprit? A wasp. In 2018, Canadian researchers published the description of the phenomenon in the journal Ecological Entomology.

The researchers made the discovery when analyzing parasites of the Anelosimus eximius (Theridiidae) spider in Ecuador, when they noticed a strange behavior.

This type of spider is very social. But some moved away from their group and built cocoons, instead of building webs. When the researchers looked at what was in the cocoon, they found Zatypota wasp larvae.

An adult wasp lays its eggs on the spider. The larva then grows inside the spider as a parasite.

When the larva reaches a certain size, it takes control of the spider, and makes it build the cocoon. The larva then feeds on the spider and enters its cocoon to finish transforming itself into a wasp.

3. A giant, 30,000-year-old virus

Still invisible to the naked eye, but much larger than other viruses, Pithovirus Sibericum was found frozen in Siberia, Russia. The finding was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The virus, which is extremely complex genetically, can be revived, and scientists managed to get it to infect an amoeba cell.

He was unable to infect human cells. However, scientists warn of the risks of global warming. Thawing Siberian permafrost can release other dangerous viruses; a real pandora box.

4. Zombie plants

This time it's not plants versus zombies - the plants are the zombies themselves. Since the 15th century, there have been reports of somewhat strange plants.

Only in 1967 was the cause discovered: a group of bacteria called Phytoplasma. It infects flowering plants, such as apple trees and sugar cane, mainly in tropical and subtropical regions.

The bacterium uses the plant to reproduce, and it becomes a living-dead. It no longer produces its flowers and strange branches appear instead.

To invade plant cells, the Phytoplasma bacterium produces the SAP54 protein, which mimics a plant protein, and this is its “key". From then on, the plant no longer produces its flowers and fruits.

5. Zombies… human?

Perhaps the worst fear of a human being is becoming a zombie. Some mental disorders, or problems with brain damage, practically tingle people. It is not common, however.

In 1997, in a study in The Lancet, two scientists investigated three alleged zombies in Haiti. In the country, there are reports of 9 thousand cases of "zombies" per year. Zombification is an old legend among the local population.

The first was a 30-year-old woman, who her family reported becoming a zombie for a few days, and soon passed away. The family accused her husband of having zombified her. Scientists found that what caused her this condition was a disorder called Catatonic Schizophrenia.

The second was an 18-year-old boy who looked like a zombie with yellow eyes. Three days later, he passed away. After 19 months, he appeared in a cockfight, and accused his uncle of zombifying him.

Researchers found, however, that he had brain damage and suffered from epilepsy.

The third case, “passed away” at 18 years old. After 13 years she reappeared as a zombie. The researchers concluded, therefore, that she was kidnapped and, years later, reappeared with an identity disorder.

So, no. There is not a single scientifically proven case of a human zombie to date.