Our world is full of strange and fascinating creatures. One of the strangest, however, is a parasitic worm known in some circles as a “mind-controlling worm.” These parasitic worms are found all over the world and usually resemble thin strands of spaghetti about two inches long. However, their bodies and genes hint at the parasitic lifestyle they live.
Furworms are called mind control worms because they can affect the behavior of the hosts they inhabit. This allows the host to do things they normally wouldn’t. There are hundreds of different species of these freshwater fur worms, and the process they follow to grow is both fascinating and terrifying.
But what is most intriguing about them today is the new research published Current Biology It digs deep into the genes that make up these parasitic little creatures. The researchers set out to sequence the hairworm’s genome because it had not yet been sequenced at that level. Phys.org Reports.
What they found confused the researchers and even made them wonder if they had somehow made a mistake. Because genetic sequences from the tapeworm show that these parasitic mind-controlling worms have lost 30 percent of their expected genes. The same genes are found in all animals known to mankind.
To determine if they were missing something, the researchers tested their results against another species of hairworm and found that the second species was missing the same set of genes. The loss of these genes suggests that the worms lost those genes long ago due to some evolutionary trait.
The belief is that these parasitic worms do not need those functions themselves because they can rely on their host to provide those functions, thus allowing them to evolve from their genes. It’s a fascinating discovery and hopefully will help us find out more about these fascinating little parasites.
Parasites such as roundworms are not uncommon. According to some studies, some parasites can even get you to have sex to spread it, while others, like the hairworm, force the host to jump into the water so it can mate with other hairworms.