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Nov 05 2011

Anti-caturday post

There is actually a cat in this video. Notice, though, that it only appears briefly in the beginning, looks bored, and apathetically wanders off screen. Why? Because the rest of the video features something far more exciting and bizarre than a mere cat: it’s all about zombie fish, their brains infected with trematode parasites. The cat knows that it cannot compete, unless it goes off and gets its brain tainted with some freaky strange parasite to give it some character.

Another interesting thing about it is that this video is an attempt to get funding for science research. If you feel like promoting more research into how to infect brains and make zombies, donate!

(Also on FtB)

36 comments

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  1. 1
    A. R

    Looks like fascinating research. Much better than cats. But not as magnificent as cephalopods.

  2. 2
    Jim

    My kittens took a look at the video and yawned. My boy kitten was miffed at the “mere cat” reference. My little girl kitten just looked hurt. I gave them some catnip and all is well.

  3. 3
    R. Johnston

    Much more interesting than the subject of the previous zombie post . . .

  4. 4
    feralboy12

    Cats create zombie people, who then mindlessly do their bidding. The zombified people do everything for the cat, including acquiring food, preparing nests, eliminating parasites, protecting them from predators etc.
    I have been attempting to research this phenomenon, but my experiments all seem to require huge amounts of string. Still, progress is being made.

  5. 5
    Mr President

    You had me at “Carl Sagan riding a unicorn.”

  6. 6
    JimB

    Holy Fuck!

    Well. Let me be the first to welcome our new parasitical overlords! (underlords?)

    And now I don’t know if posting this was my idea or not.

  7. 7
    Glen Davidson

    The cat knows that it cannot compete, unless it goes off and gets its brain tainted with some freaky strange parasite to give it some character.

    You don’t give enough credit to the devils possessing most, if not all, cats.

    I know that the demons mostly like to sleep or lick themselves, but they perk up every once in a while to do something truly insane.

    Glen Davidson

  8. 8
    Cujo359

    Aww, cute kitty!

    I hadn’t realized that such parasites existed. But then, there are whole introductory marine biology texts devoted to what I don’t know about the subject. It might not be much of a revelation to biologists, but I’m starting to think that this sort of thing has been the inspiration for a few Star Trek episodes.

  9. 9
    ColonelZen

    Re JimB @ #6

    Well the question is are you the host, or the parasite? Are you sure?

    Or an accidental emergence of their transient conjunction? (Gee, twere it so, and you found out, wouldn’t that really, really suck?)

    – TWZ

  10. 10
    ColonelZen

    Cujo359 @8

    FYI http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_dangerous_memes.html

    – TWZ

  11. 11
    Frank Gurliacci

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasma_gondii

  12. 12
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    If you feel like promoting more research into how to infect brains and make zombies, donate!

    Wait, what? Is PZ asking us to donate to an evangelical fundamentalist dominionist christianist authoritarian church?

  13. 13
    Pickle surprise

    Cool research idea. Reminds me of Carl Zimmer’s excellent “Parasite Rex”. Parasites are simultaneously gross and fascinating to me, mostly fascinating.

    On the internet’s obsession with cats, I mean cats are cute but I just don’t get it. Same goes to the online devotion to Ron Paul.

  14. 14
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Another interesting thing about it is that this video is an attempt to get funding for science research. If you feel like promoting more research into how to infect brains and make zombies, donate!

    Aren’t there church/state issues there?

  15. 15
    Pickle surprise

    Cool research idea. Reminds me of Carl Zimmer’s excellent “Parasite Rex”. Parasites are simultaneously gross and fascinating to me, mostly fascinating.

    On the internet’s obsession with cats I just don’t get it. I mean cats are cute but it is a bit much seeing them all over the intertubes. Same goes to the online devotion to Ron Paul. Difference there though is that there is nothing likeable about him so the internet love for him is more mystifying to me.

  16. 16
    Pickle surprise

    Oops posted twice. Second post was meant to be my original point.

  17. 17
    Juicyheart

    Uh oh. PZ is succumbing to the Greta and Jen double team.

  18. 18
    jebyrnes

    So glad to see something from #SciFund covered here. Actually, you all might be interested in the #SciFund challenge. We’ve gathered up 50 scientists from a ton of different disciplines to try and crowdfund their research. See our “manifesto” about crowdfunding for science (and other posts about science and crowdfunding) at our blog and then go check out the great projects!

    It’s been pretty incredible to watch everyone really try take a hard look at their science and connect it to a much larger non-academic audience. Worth checking out if only to see how it’s done! We’ve also got a hastag on twitter. ‘natch.

  19. 19
    Anj

    Cats doing something truly insane?

    Might be a seizure disorder. “Fly biting” (snapping at apparently nothing) or any momentary action that seems completely unconnected to any environmental stimulus may well be seizures.

    I am interested in genetic disorders of dogs and cats mostly because I wonder why we breed dysfunction into animals we supposedly love and care for. Sorry to say, some of those pet quirks that people think are unique or funny are may be signs of congenital disorders.

    http://www.astraean.com/borderwars/
    Written by a border collie owner who is interested in and actually understands a fair amount of genetics.

  20. 20
    zxcier

    Huh, so PZ reads SMBC, guess I don’t need to consider it one of my guilty pleasures anymore. Although, in the end, how many hits to wiki science articles to comics like this generate – sciencing people can’t be a bad thing:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2331

  21. 21
    crowepps

    Headed over and looked — some of the videos are great! Would promoting them on Facebook be a good plan? Getting people to watch videos that promote funding science would sure be more fun than playing games. You need a competitive scorecard, though, like the various ‘our corporation will donate TWO playgrounds if millions of people watch our ad.’ Something like “Which field of science is most EXCITING! Which scientist will WIN! Pick and promote YOUR favorite!”

  22. 22
    Lotharloo

    Christie at scientificamerican also did an amazing article on zombies with a particular emphasis on brrrraaaiiinnns: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/10/31/everyday-zombie/

  23. 23
    jebyrnes

    We have a facebook page and are figuring out how to get ads up there! We’re scientists running this, so it’s all new to us! For scientists, by scientists! Ha!

  24. 24
    Cujo359

    Colonel Zen @ 10:

    Thanks for the link. Apparently, this sort of thing isn’t limited to marine biology. ;)

    Dennett’s right, of course, any idea we stop being skeptical of can hijack our minds. Many do.

  25. 25
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    PZ is succumbing to the Greta and Jen double team.

    Not that I blame him… ;P

  26. 26
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Huh, so PZ reads SMBC, guess I don’t need to consider it one of my guilty pleasures anymore.

    Why would it be a guilty pleasure? SMBC draws pretty heavily on the “comedic sociopathy” trope for comedy, but it’s amazing in terms of being equal-opportunity with regards to race and gender of the characters…

  27. 27
    Francisco Bacopa

    Anyone know what species of fish that is in the video? Looks like it could be some kind of small cyprinid. That makes it tough to identify as there are so many cyprinids. Bit if it is one, why not use a pretty one like T. albonubes?

    Sorry PZ, they’re prettier than zebrafish too, and I have found them just as easy to breed.

  28. 28
    Trebuchet

    If she gets enough funding, will she be able to buy Zach a shirt? I’m assuming he can’t afford one since he never draws himself in one. And to my surprise, Kelly looks just like he draws her!

  29. 29
  30. 30
    Aquaria

    Cats doing something truly insane?

    All cats are truly insane. Or, as my grandmother called it, “high strung.” This is why they do things like shitting in those Gucci slingbacks that took 2 months of living on peanut butter and pickles to buy, using your brand new Missoni mohair coat as a scratching post if you make the mistake of laying it on the back of a chair, hanging on the screen door for at least an hour a day, or growling if any living creature steps into your yard–but making a beeline for under the bed if someone actually knocks on the door.

    Why do all this stuff? There is no why with cats. It makes perfect sense to them, never mind to you.

  31. 31
    Hazuki

    Hmm… T. gondii has already been mentioned, but has there been any talk of its effects on humans? It’s common knowledge that toxoplasmosis is horrible for developing fetuses but what about mental effects? Since it makes mice…um…suicidally feliphiliac, I wonder if it doesn’t have something to do with “crazy cat lady” syndrome.

  32. 32
    elronxenu

    #31 Hazuki,

    Toxoplasmosis has been linked to schizophrenia, changes in sociability – and curiously, also an increased propensity for traffic accidents.

  33. 33
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    @Aquaria (#30) — It’s in the contract, we’re supposed to confuse the fuck out of the humans by doing weird random shit. If we get the smart ones, we can train them to give treats on command.

    *looks around*

    At least, that’s what I’ve heard…

  34. 34
    kev_s

    If you’ve not seen this before I thoroughly recommend it:
    ROBERT SAPOLSKY Video on Toxo
    http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge307.html#tc

  35. 35
    Charlie Foxtrot

    Ha – recognised her from the ‘Hello!’ :)

    I’ve just started listening to ‘The Weekly Weinersmith’ podcast (after hearing they had Phil Plait on in ep2)

    Betcha there’s a similiar little beastie nestling in creationist brains.

  36. 36
    Ryon

    And in a few years when we start to wonder how the Zombie Apocalypse started, we can point back to the moment when the Economy got so bad we were forced to eat Zombie Fish.

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