These tiny creatures are some of the scariest living things on Earth.

Zombies ... what if I told you that they're everywhere?

Hold on to your brains. Here's the story:

You know about your run-of-the-mill parasite — where one insect lays an egg inside another, and when the larvae hatches, it consumes its host from the inside out until it's ready to emerge and take over the world?


It seems that many parasites take things a step further:

These kinds of parasites bend their victims' wills to serve a new master.

The horsehair worm grows up inside a cricket and then drives it to commit suicide by drowning.

The horsehair worm needs water in order to reproduce. When it's old enough to mate, the parasite releases proteins that cause the crickets to become suicidal in a very specific way: by drowning. A host cricket finds water and flings itself in. While it drowns, the horsehair worm wriggles its way out, free to hit the singles scene.

And this isn't an isolated thing either. One scientist in Japan found that in one stream, deviant suicidal crickets made up 60% of the diet of local trout!

Then there's this "head-banging zombie caterpillar" brainwashed by wasps.

After being stung by a parasitic wasp, this caterpillar becomes a body guard: Here it is beating off a curious weevil to protect the cocoons of the very insect that is devouring it from inside. So, in a way, the caterpillar and cricket are no longer their original selves.

It's like the cricket and the caterpillar have become extensions of the minds of their parasitic conquerors...

Parasites even control group behavior. Tapeworm-infected sea monkeys turn bright red and swim together in clumps.

Why? So they can be more easily spotted and eaten by flamingos, which — you guessed it — is exactly where those tapeworms like to breed.

You want to take solace that this is just a thing of the creepy insect world, right?

A parasite called "toxo" has crossed the arthopod-mammal barrier without a problem.

"Toxo" is a one-celled parasite that lives in rats but needs to be inside cats to reproduce. And yes, this is why people are advised to avoid changing litter boxes while they're pregnant.

See, in rats, this toxo manipulates their brains in a way that makes them think it's a smart idea to run toward the smell of cat pee instead of away from it, making the rats easier for cats to hunt.

But if a pregnant person encounters a toxo while cleaning out the litter box of an infected cat, it can cause serious birth defects to the fetus.

It's just not natural!

Except — it is.

It turns out that 1 in 3 of us humans actually have this toxo in our own brains.

Scientists are very divided over whether the parasite is actually manipulating human behavior. Some think they see it in personality tests, car accidents, and schizophrenia.

Bottom line, manipulation in nature is far more common than we've thought. The walking living dead are out there, and there are a lot of them.

Parasite mind control is just one more example of how the natural world is endlessly fascinating.

We should never think we got it all figured out! Unless we're this guy, who sure seems to know a lot about it:


True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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