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I was talking to Zach earlier about evolution and I tried, with ineptitude, to explain the life cycle of the Dicrocoelium lanceolatum to him. I found some good information on the organism and thought you all might be interested.

The Lancet Fluke, or Dicrocoelium lanceolatum (order Trematoda) infects mammals such as sheep, goats and rabbits. The fluke deposits eggs which are carried from the host mammal in the animal's waste. These eggs are transferred onto the vegetative material eaten by snails, mostly Helicella or enid snails. In the snail's digestive gland, the eggs hatch into the first and second larval generations. The irritation caused by the larvae in the snail's digestive process causes the snail to secrete a mucus ball. This mucus ball is infected with the larval fluke and is an attractive foodsource for ants. The fluke larvae matures in the abdomen of the ant, eventually moving to the brain of the ant "zombifying" it. The "zombie ants" climb up to the leaves of vegetation eaten by mammals such as sheep, goats and rabbits and attach themselves to the leaves by biting down and hanging there. They will hang there until they starve to death, or are eaten by another host mammal. The digested ants infect the host mammal with the Lancet Fluke which matures and lays more eggs.

This is a summarized, and likely plagiarized (go easy on me) description of the lifcycle taken from this website...

I hope you find this as fascinating as I do. Feel free to post more information about critters and plants with interesting habits.
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I will go ahead and post another one. This snake was discovered a year ago in Borneo.

The venomous snake has the ability to mimic colors like the Chameleon. This is a trait rarely seen in snakes. My favorite part of the article was this...

"I put the reddish-brown snake in a dark bucket," said Mark Auliya, a reptile expert and a consultant for the group. "When I retrieved it a few minutes later, it was almost entirely white."


i recall learning about various freaky facets of the invertebrate realm as an undergrad. i found it stunning and absolutely awesome that such intricate relationships between parasite and multiple hosts have evolved.

the liver fluke has the same life cycle at the lancet described above. only the organism burrows through the intesting into the liver to catch a ride in the bile to continue the cycle. see the illustration as the site below.

sooooo cool. learing about these and other parasites sort of gives you the itchies. oh no i've got formication :)


Heather, it was your lindenii that started the conversation.

I have always been fascinated by the lifecycle of the Cicada. The annual Cicada has a lifecycle that matures every second or third year. The mature adults breed, and the female cuts gashes in the twiglike branches of trees where she deposits the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae fall to the ground, and begin burrowing into the soil to feed on the roots of the tree while they mature. The insects survive multiple winters this way, and in the spring of the second or third year, begin the journey out of their burrow and up the trunk of the tree. They climb to varying heights where they shed an exoskeleton and develop wings. Then they fly away to breed and perform that shrill call that can be heard for a mile in the summer.

That site has some great photos of the annual cicada shedding its shell.

The reason I have always been interested in them is because when I was a boy, my little brother and I used to collect them. We were watching television one day when we saw a group of college students who were studying Cicadas pull one out of the ground. We were fascinated, and being children, knew we had to try it. So we went outside and found a tree, not realizing that what we were going to do was really going to work!

We grabbed some long slender twigs and searched the ground around the base of the tree until we found what we thought was a cicada burrow. These are small holes about the size of a dime. We stuck the twigs into the hole as we had seen on television. Suddenly, there was a tug at the end of the stick. We pulled the stick out of the ground and attatched to the end was a Cicada larvae!!! It was the coolest thing (at the time) we had ever done.

They have sharp little pinchers, so you have to be careful handling them. We of course, soon discovered that they made perfect torture creatures for Cobra Commander to unleash on GI Joe. We also used to search the trees for the empty shells, collecting dozens of them and marveling at the shells that were still in "mint condition" (I know we were dorks, but we collected baseball cards at the time too).

Ok, I have shared enough embarassing when-I-was-a-kid stories today.

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