Zombie Insects and Disgusted Humans: How Parasites Affect Behavior
March 21, 2010
From the dark forests of New Guinea to the woods of New England, various parasites pull off tricks of manipulation that would impress any Hollywood screenwriter: they hijack the brains of insects and literally turn them into “zombies.” In defending against such sinister Svengalis, an array of defensive behaviors has evolved. Darwin was the first to study this in humans, and since then scientists have theorized that fear and disgust might be a defense against certain parasites. David Hughes, a researcher in Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, will discuss the evolution of these behaviors in a world teeming with parasites. Free with museum admission.