Ophiocordyceps unilateralis: the Zombie Fungus

 

ant

 

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis looks like two unpronounceable words, right?  In fact, Microsoft word does not even recognize either word.  However, there is another term for this entomopathogen.  “The zombie fungus!”

 

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By the way, an entomopathogen is also a very difficult to pronounce word, although maybe slightly easier.  Much more importantly, It is also a term for a fungus that will kill, or maim an insect.  You’d think that a fungus would be incapable of inhabiting, infecting, and eventually killing another creature, because it appears inanimate.  However, many creatures in the world seem inanimate!  There are those who are unaware of a sand dollar‘s sentience.

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unilateralisA wandering ant may come across a set of fungal spores, and immediately become infected by the fungus.  The infection spreads throughout the ant’s body, and steals control of the ant’s nervous system.  The fungus will then force the host ant to climb the nearest desired vegetation.  When the fungus has chosen a desired spot, it forces the ant to clamp down to a twig, or leaf, or perhaps a flower even.  The fungus then creates its own spores, which grow out of the back of the ant’s head.  (Which did you think of: Alien, or Walking Dead?)  Having fully matured, the spores fall to the ground, and infect other ants passing by to further its campaign.  Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is proof that mind control is real.  You can freak out now.  This is one of the many dangerous, and unsuspecting weapons of nature, much like the tiger lilly.

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But don’t worry, we have a protector from this Ant-Fuhrer of fungi.  It is unidentified, but it is a hyperparasite; probably the most pronounceable word offered yet.  This fungus will feed off of the zombie fungus, and in some cases, will stop it from releasing further spores, and continuing the cycle of life, infestation, zombie-ant riding, and respawning. (This sounds like a great premise for a videogame, doesn’t it?)  The hyperparasite fungus is often referred to as “The anti-zombie fungus fungus!”

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According to a study, the zombie fungus is a picky fungus.  It chooses only its favorite ants to inhabit, although it is capable of inhabiting most ants.  The two preferred ants for infestation are as follows: Camponotus castaneus and Camponotus americanus.

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For additional fun, write down each latin/scientific term provided, and try to read them five times fast in a consecutive row.  Godspeed!

Digital Storytelling Showcase Review

Digital storytelling showcase review

 

The most interesting thing about this assignment is the broadness of it.  Every person used the project to make a very different and unique short film; ranging from film analysis/review, to playful music video, to close personal story of some sort.

Lauren Faure’s UPJ campus tour works as something of a well shot infomercial for the Pitt-Johnstown campus, with long steady shots, and smooth transitions.  There is not necessarily an element of story within this film, but to a prospective student, the site of daily campus life could be intriguing and enticing enough to draw them to the school.  The driving shot at the opening is particularly well done.  The music plays well into the idea of this being a guided tour developed for youth to entice them to apply.

Jacey’s “Story for No One” has only a brief monolog at the opening which gives a sense behind the idea of this film: simply filming some mundane, and perhaps briefly some less mundane moments in a person’s life.  We see a drive which is repeated several times throughout the brief film, and also a shot of three friends speaking at a lunch table.  These two shots are shown repeatedly throughout the film, but some more playful elements are worked in, such as one male friend being filmed putting on and taking off a dress in public, and acting playfully in front of a green screen. The music works well with the concept, as the lyrics play to similar thoughts.

Brandon’s film was surprisingly clean visually.  It looked rather professional at times in the sense of how detailed and still each shot was.  The monologue worked perfectly with the scenes to depict a person’s thought process as they work through the events of a recent break-up, and a wish to move on.  There is no score, or sound other than the narrator’s voice, which is again very clearly captured.  The narration works beautifully with each carefully shot and edited scene.  It’s also very interesting that we only see mouths and hands through the majority of the film.

Lauren’s “A Place to Unload” reads as a great testimonial to the personal benefits of being a coach, and working with young athletes.  You can tell that there is a real excitement and appreciation for the sport as well as the bond developed between the speaker and the gym.  We get a tour of generally the entire facility , and you can feel the speaker/creator’s nostalgia.  The space in the middle without speech makes you pay special attention when the speaker chimes back in again.

Jeffrey’s video analysis of the film “O Negative” is a compelling piece.  His observations throughout are vividly descriptive, and his delivery is professional.  The observations about dependency explained in a direct and practical manner would most likely keep a viewer interested without having previously seen the film. It made me want to watch it again!

Melanie’s music video is primarily a person living out their day in an apartment or possibly a dorm room.  Changing clothes, vacuuming, cleaning, and dancing with herself.  It seems as though maybe she’s getting ready for something exciting.  It is playful, and carefully shot.  There is not much depth to the video, but that is to be expected with mainstream pop songs.  It’s fun and simple, and the scene at the end where she walks out with the dress perfectly synchronized to the song ending is well done.

 

The Tyranny

 

 

The Tyranny

An overcast sun, shying away from your helplessness.
The noise growing from a lull to the deepest crescendo.
This is where you go for solace. to escape mundane
Painfully awkward conversations with creatures
Who speak plain english, yet you just cannot understand
in what ways you could possibly resemble
the same species.

It’s so very confusing, how the pictures can be so calming.
That view in your mind’s eye; where everything is
just as you could imagine it.
To the fullest extent.
You feel this transformation
from a whimper to a shout
or is it something else?

That noise you hear is a low boil, coming to a full roar,
Over, and over, and drowning you in a heat that you cannot withstand.
This is what it is to feel human, and alone, and un-relatable.
You think of the men who made this world,
and wonder; were they wrong?
Are we better off dwelling in caves,
hidden from the tyranny of agenda.

Words, sounds, film: Sean T. Jackson