Originally published via Armageddon Prose:
Underground networks of seemingly autonomous and intelligent mushrooms govern the soil microbiome (the largest organism on Earth being mycelia in Oregon).
Mushrooms of the psychedelic variety, indeed, may have intoxicated apes wandering the savannah for food and birthed the human race. (There is currently no explanation for the rapid evolutionary increase in human intelligence that has no parallel.)
Female damselflies will pretend to be male in order to avoid sexual harassment by horny males so they can go on doing whatever damselflies do with themselves.
And kitty poop, apparently, causes traffic fatalities via an infection that potentially affects up to a third of the entire global population and up to 90% of certain European populations.
And most of them have no idea they, or their furballs, have it.
“Toxoplasmosis is caused by infection with the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate intracellular parasite.…
T gondii infects a large proportion of the world’s population (perhaps one third) but uncommonly causes clinically significant disease…
Congenital toxoplasmosis usually is a subclinical infection…
.In most immunocompetent individuals, primary or chronic (latent) T gondii infection is asymptomatic. A small percentage of these patients eventually develop retinochoroiditis, lymphadenitis, or, rarely, myocarditis and polymyositis….
T gondii has 2 distinct life cycles. The sexual cycle occurs only in cats, the definitive host. The asexual cycle occurs in other mammals (including humans) and various strains of birds…
A cat becomes infected with T gondii by eating contaminated raw meat, wild birds, or mice.  The organism’s sexual cycle then begins in the cat’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract…
During a primary infection, the cat can excrete millions of oocysts daily for 1-3 weeks…
T gondii oocysts, tachyzoites, and bradyzoites can cause infection in humans. Infection can occur by ingestion of oocysts following the handling of contaminated soil or cat litter or through the consumption of contaminated water or food sources.
T gondii oocysts are ingested in material contaminated by feces from infected cats. Oocysts may also be transported to food by flies and cockroaches.”
Hats off to the ingenious protozoa – or whatever celestial entity directs its evolution – to figure out how to get itself transported into the GI tract of an innocent kitty-kitty and out into the world via cat feces via flies via food – or, in the case of domesticated cats, through the kittle litter their owners handle.
One of the behavioral changes that toxoplasmosis induces in infected hosts is increased risk-taking by way of reduced fear:
“Numerous experimental animal model studies have shown that T. gondii infection is associated with predatory risk behaviours such as an attraction of infected mice to cat urine. Infection with the parasite is associated with a demethylation of the promoters of certain genes in the cerebral amygdala of the intermediate hosts, modifying dopaminergic circuits associated with fear.”
And one of the outcomes of these induced behavioral changes for affected humans is, per quantitative analysis, increased traffic accidents.
“The subjects with latent toxoplasmosis have significantly increased risk of traffic accidents than the noninfected subjects. Relative risk of traffic accidents decreases with the duration of infection. These results suggest that ‘asymptomatic’ acquired toxoplasmosis might in fact represent a serious and highly underestimated public health problem, as well as an economic problem.”
What a tangled web we weave.
Ben Bartee, author of Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile, is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.
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