There are many examples of parasites hijacking their hosts’ bodies and altering their behavior in alarming and grotesque ways. An article at The Scientist describes four of these parasite-host relationships and discusses how scientists are starting to figure out how some parasites become mind control experts. You can read about these disgusting stories and more (WARNING: probably not for the squeamish): The Jewel Wasp and the Cockroach – The female jewel wasp guides the cockroach to its nest, where she lays an egg on the roach and then seals the nursery. Her larva will feed on the cockroach and then pupate in its abdomen, emerging as an adult one month later. Toxoplasma and the Rat – A rat eats cat feces that contain Toxoplasma eggs, which initiate behavioral changes in the rat that cause it to be attracted to the scent of cat urine. Instead of hiding, the rat becomes easy prey for a hungry. . . Read More
My newest blog post at AAAS Member Central deals with lions and people, increasingly coming into conflict in Africa. One researcher is testing to see if conditioned taste aversion can be used to teach lions not to eat livestock. Read more! ( pdf or link )
I am happy to announce the launch of my new blog on Psychology Today’s blog network! It’s called “Animal Minds: The Neuroscience of Behavior in the Wild.” I’ll be sharing my favorite stories, topics and research discoveries related to neuroethology, the multidisciplinary field combining neurobiology with animal behavior. You can click here to visit, or click on the button beneath my photo on the right. Please follow me and spread the word!