Monday, June 23, 2008

How nature engineers a suicidal rat

From NPR's All Things Considered

When you see a cat pounce on a rat, it seems like a classic story about a predator and prey.

But scientists have recently discovered that sometimes the main actor is actually a tiny parasite in the rat's brain that makes the normally fearful rat think "oh how nice" when it smells a cat.

The parasite wants the rat to be caught by the cat because it needs to be in the cat's stomach to reproduce. New research sheds light on how this surprising little organism can manipulate a rodent to do its will.
The link above has a brief 4 minute, 41 second audio discussion of this research from Ajai Vyas and Robert Sapolsky. National Geographic also summarizes the research, here.

1 comment:

Paul Dirks said...

Why do I have these visions of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid dancing through my head?