10 thoughts on “What the heck?

  1. We think it is a parasite that has infected an antenna of the snail. One of our interns says she saw footage of this in an invertebrate zoology course she took. I’ll see what more info I can find out.

  2. Okay, here’s the deal, ala “The Art of Being a Parasite” by Claude Combes, et al:

    “Leucochoridium paradoxum … a cerariae… are in a parasite sporocyst in the host mollusc (a snail in the genus Succinea that inhabits freshwater shores) in which they were produced. They accumulate in one part of the sporocyst. They encyst there as infective metacercaria. The part of the sporocyst that contains them insinuates itself into one of the snail’s tentacles, which acquires the shape, color and movements of an insect caterpillar, so that this ‘sack of parasites’ is swallowed by blackbirds, which become hosts of the adult trematode.”

    Disgusting and yet pretty cool and amazing at the same time, eh?

  3. While working at Lakeside labs in Iowa, I got the chance to work with one of these and put them under a scope–pretty unbelievable. You’ve got a nice video. Realize that these parasites actually manipulate the snail’s behavior—the snails seek sunshine during the day instead of taking shelter in the shade. Parasites are cool.

    Here’s another video with the entire cycle recreated….

  4. Aww, others beat me to it. Very cool. Similar to the cordyceps, a fungus which attack insects, infecting their brain, forcing them to climb upwards. When they reach the top, the fungus will explode through the ant’s head sending spores which infect other insects. Cool adaptation.

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