Saturday, June 13, 2009
I just wanted to send a shout out to my readers all over the world! According to my visitor tracker, in addition to many places in the USA, I have had at least one hit from Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, and Finland. The title of this blog is "Hello" (or Hi) in Korean, Finnish, Russian, and Bulgarian respectively. Welcome aboard. Comments are welcomed. Thanks! 고맙습니다! kiitos! спасибо! благодаря! KEEP READING - ALTHOUGH THIS IS AN IMPORTANT POST - IT IS THE SECOND OF THE DAY. READ ON 1
I love learning and knowledge. I love weird facts. I just came across one that qualifies as one of the weirdest and coolest I have ever read. Read on... The microscopic parasite Toxoplasma gondii has an interesting effect when it infects rats and mice - it makes them become unafraid of cats. This is pretty helpful to the Toxoplasma, which can only sexually reproduce if its host is eaten by a cat. Is that awesome or what?!? This parasite can only reproduce in the intestinal tract of felines (cats). It can be carried by any warm blooded creature. If it is present in a rat or mouse, one of the side effects of the parasite is to form vacuoles which become cysts in the brains of the host. In rats and mice those cysts cause some sort of chemical reaction that cause the rats/mice to lose their fear of cats. Here is one citation of the phenomenon - T. gondii infections have the ability to change the behavior of rats and mice, making them drawn to rather than fearful of the scent of cats. This effect is advantageous to the parasite, which will be able to sexually reproduce if its host is eaten by a cat. The infection is almost surgical in its precision, as it does not affect a rat's other fears such as the fear of open spaces or of unfamiliar smelling food. I think it is especially cool that it does not change any other behavioral aspect of the host. It just makes them not fear cats (another source I read said it actually appears to make rats/mice attracted to cats!) so the parasite can reproduce. This concludes your lesson for today. Continue independent studies.