September 2, 2005

DESIGNING WORMS (via bboys):

Suicide Grasshoppers Brainwashed by Parasite Worms (James Owen, September 1, 2005, National Geographic News)

[S]ci-fi screenwriters may have a new role model—parasitic worms that brainwash their victims.

Scientists say hairworms, which live inside grasshoppers, pump the insects with a cocktail of chemicals that makes them commit suicide by leaping into water. The parasites then swim away from their drowning hosts to continue their life cycle.

A team of French biologists made the discovery after monitoring grasshoppers that became trapped in a swimming pool in southern France.

Postmortems of the grasshoppers suggest that worms triggered the insects' death leaps by sabotaging their central nervous systems.

Writing this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the team says their findings help explain how parasites are able to manipulate their hosts' behavior to the parasites' own ends.

Scientists have long argued whether strange behavior in parasite-infested animals is deliberately engineered or simply an accidental side effect of infection.

The new study suggests the former, says David G. Biron of the Laboratory of Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases at France's National Scientific Research Center in Montpellier.

Geez, in public they always pretend there is no intelligent design in Nature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 2, 2005 4:16 PM

Maybe you should learn more about evolutionary biology. It's a lot more complex than you think, or portray it to be. It actually looks to explain the variations in organisms through the forces of nature, in the interactions between a gene and its environment; rather than just dismiss all data and and stick to the assertion that it is all in the intended guidance of the hands of god. But how does intelligent design precludes the possibility of thr truth of natural selection? Isn't it possible that Natural Selection is God's design? Or would that challenge a certain narrow interpretation of Christianity?

Posted by: at September 2, 2005 4:37 PM

I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that God designed the Universe and Nature to produce an intelligent creature rather like himself and that evolution depends not just on that intelligent design but on intelligent decision making to achieve certain ends within the process.

That isn't Darwinism or Natural Selection though.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2005 4:43 PM

It is an interesting explantation for French Socialism.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2005 5:42 PM

Bush derangement syndrome too.

Posted by: jdkelly at September 2, 2005 5:44 PM

I had the same thought . . . does this explain Democratic Underground?

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 2, 2005 6:41 PM

Nothing will ever explain DU.

Posted by: obc at September 2, 2005 8:35 PM

Them's some hardworking scientists observing grasshoppers by the pool.

When I was a kid in Vermont we would occasionally have moose with brainworms show up in town and do the same thing (jump in swimming pools, not science).

Actually, this story IS evidence of intelligent design. In the summer here the trout in the small mountain streams I fish get lethargic during July and August, and the bright sun and long days of summer make them skittish. However, a loving God placed hairworms in the brains of grasshoppers, causing them to leap headlong into pretty little meadow streams, where wild bonneville cutthroat trout just can't resist the fat mouthfuls thrashing about on the surface and strike at them with abandon. They also strike at the grasshoper imitations I cast to them with my fly rod, causing me to praise the Lord profusely. I defy anyone to deny the logic in that.

Posted by: jason johnson at September 2, 2005 11:49 PM

In the summer brainworms make me call in sick to work and spend the day loafing outside. Damn brainworms!

Posted by: Governor Breck at September 3, 2005 7:27 AM

dont laugh--- i have been infected 3 yrs. w/ 'hairworms'--after swimming in a virginia pond... v/ hard to detect...undergoing treatment, now. x-files, body-snatchers--while trying to be lucy[i love lucy] ie keep sense of humour.

Posted by: varanas at September 7, 2005 3:08 PM


Posted by: varanas at September 7, 2005 3:12 PM