Could a parasitic fungus evolve to control humans?
The zombie-creating fungus in The Last of Us is real, but there are many other fungi to fear. Of the 5 million fungal species in the world, a few hundred are dangerous to people.
An ant, no longer in control of its body, crawls away from its colony, hangs perilously on a leaf, and waits to die as a fungus consumes its body, emerges from its head, and releases spores into the air.
“They’re like these grim little Christmas ornaments out in the forest,” says Ian Will, a fungal geneticist at the University of Central Florida, where these zombified ants can be found.
What if this parasitic fungus could do the same thing to us?
That’s the premise of the new television show based on the video game The Last of Us in which, as a result of warming temperatures caused by climate change, a fungus takes over the world and turns humans into parasite-controlled zombies.