Ever since the big screen was graced by the presence of George A. Romero, the torrent of zombies and zombie-oriented media has not ebbed from the Hollywood production schedule. We can't seem to get enough of the idea that dead flesh eaters are coming for us.
But that's all it is, right? Just a bunch of over-hyped Hollywood special effects and stories that, no matter how well-told, are still just stories. They have to be! The idea that a dead person can return to life, let alone return to life in order to feast on the flesh of those around him is absolutely crazy. Complete fiction. There is absolutely no way something like that could be real.
Or is there?
What if there was evidence that pointed toward the possibility that these creatures were real? What if you were presented with proof that zombies were not something confined to nightmares, but rather, a part of life that you may one day have to face yourself?
Now, don't go grabbing your shotguns and practicing your cardio just yet. Here, I will present you with fifteen pieces of evidence that suggest the world you know might be just a little bit skewed from what you think. It's up to you to determine for yourself whether or not you believe. Be careful, because this list may cause you to ask yourself, "What If?"
15 Real Zombies
There are numerous accounts of real zombies in areas of Haiti. The Haitian people believe that it is the Vodoun Bokor's sorcery that creates these mindless automotons; that the voodoo priest captures a person's "ti bon ange," which is the part of a person's soul that connects directly to the person.
Various scientific inquiries into the subject, however, have shown a very real source. A mixture of plant and animal powders are used to create the effect. Tetrodotoxin from the pufferfish is the most popular of these but toads, frogs, spiders, lizards and even human remains have been found in these studied powders.
According to the information gathered, the powders irritate the skin, making a person's skin appear corpse-like while the toxins mimic death biologically, slowing the respiration and heart rhythm to points of near death. The rest is just a matter of digging up the new zombie!
14 Bath Salts
The Miami zombie who had literally eaten another man's face off was hard to miss. While stunned news reports flooded in and the internet swarmed with rumors of a zombie outbreak, it turned out that the man was likely under the effects of a new drug called Bath Salts.
When I think of bath salts, I think of stuff you put in a bath right before a nice soak, not something that would cause me to act like a raving psychopath. I suspect whoever named this stuff was related to the person involved in naming Iceland and Greenland.
Regardless of the innocuous name, bath salts have been involved in several strange attacks by people under the effects of the drug, including a man who ate a family dog alive.
The image above is not an actual Krocodil user (obviously), but the image does resemble the effects that the drug has on a person's flesh. The fact that I came up empty in a search to find an appropriate image for a drug user should say enough about the effects it can have.
The Krokodil drug, which obviously translates to crocodile in Russian, is a synthetic home-brew of the painkiller Desomorphine. It combines codeine with other cutting agents such as paint thinner and hydrochloric acid. Users of the drug tend to experience wild mood swings and altered states of personality as well as states of fugue and violence.
In addition to the psychological changes, the drug literally rots you from the inside. To see the effects, all you have to do is a Google search. They're NSFW, so don't say I didn't warn you.
12 The CDC Zombie Plan
You might be saying that among this list, there really is no official word on zombies. The United States government only takes things into account when they're real threats, right? Well, the Center for Disease Control has an entire section of their website dedicated to a plan in case of Zombie Outbreak.
Though according to the site, it began as a "tongue-in-cheek campaign" to rally support and spread knowledge on preparedness, it cannot be dismissed that the government can and does have plans that acknowledge and prepare in the eventuality of an outbreak of a disease that causes people to become violent and virulent.
In an effort to assuage the fears people had at the CDC campaign, they also created a novella called Zombie Pandemic. Do you think this was a simple campaign ploy, or does the CDC know something we don't?
In much the same way a chicken has lived for months without its head, the idea of neurogenesis depicts an idea in which the body of a person can not only survive without most of its brain, but also regrow brain cell tissue.
If this seems like something out of a Resident Evil plot, you're absolutely right. The original plot of Resident Evil goes that the Progenitor Virus, or P-Virus, was created with stem cell research and fronted as a fountain of youth medication. This lead to various mutations, and was distilled into the T-Virus, which took advantage of the research to create biological weapons.
We know that the brain stem is all that is needed for survival. So what happens if stem cell research becomes used for biological warfare? That is, if it hasn't already.
10 Jewel Wasps
The Emerald Jewel Wasps use their venom for a truly nefarious and diabolical purpose. It turns American cockroaches into zombies! The beautiful insect chases down its prey and lands a single, well-placed sting on the cockroach that disables its legs. This leaves the cockroach open to further attack and prevents injury to the wasp. While the cockroach is disabled, the wasp gives a second sting directly into the brain of the cockroach. Soon enough, as the venom works its dark magic, the cockroach becomes complacent and its breathing slows. Why does the wasp do all this? Well, after taking a drink of roach blood, the cockroach is lead to a burrow where it hosts a single egg that will hatch a larva. That larva will eat the poor cockroach alive.
9 Ichnuemonid Wasp
Even apex predators like spiders can be hunted and become the prey. The process is as simple as it is devastating for the spider.
The Ichnuemon Wasp hunts for a particular species of orb weaver spider. Once the wasp has found a proper target, she stalks her prey, slowly advancing on the spider. Each movement of the wasp is methodical, so as to not advertise her presence. When she is close enough, she strikes. She does not strike to kill, but to lay an egg on the spider, who goes about its business.
The spider becomes a slave to the newly hatched larva, turning its own web into a resting place for the larva. Once the spider's work is done, the larva eats the spider, and pupates into another wasp. And the cycle continues.
8 Green-Banded Broodsac
There is a parasitic flatworm that literally lives to be eaten. It spends a lot of time inside of a bird's intestine, where its eggs are deposited onto the ground by their poop.
Unfortunately for a snail, bird poop is an item on the top of the menu and is devoured when found. This transfers the eggs inside of the hapless snail, who eventually becomes a slave.
Once hatched, the larva manipulates the body of the snail, swelling its eyestalks and causing them to pulsate in order to entice a bird's appetite. The larva also controls the snail's mind, causing it to travel to the tops of plants and leaves to make themselves more readily apparent to be eaten. Once eaten, the cycle continues.
The bio-horror movie Slither summed it up nicely: "What kinda thing wants you to eat it?"
7 ZomBees: Flight of the Living Dead (Apocephalus borealis)
Zombees are a name given to bees that have become hosts for the Zombie Fly. Okay, so that's might just be a nickname. The Phorid Fly, or Apocephalus borealis, is smaller than a housefly. It's smaller even, than a fruitfly. It will land on a bee and insert its ovipositor in between the bee's body segments, and lays hundreds of eggs. When those eggs hatch, they start to devour the bee from the inside out. Eventually, when the bee dies and anything nutritious has been eaten, the maggots almost literally pour from the bee's neck.
Originally, they only began to infest bumblebees, but they've evolved to also be able to parasitize other species of bee as well. Let's hope these bugs never become able to infect humanity. That's the botfly's job!
6 Zombie Caterpillar (Ophiocordyceps sinensis)
The Voodoo Wasp is aptly named because it uses its magic to control caterpillars. Okay, so maybe it's not magic. The thing with this particular variety of mind-controlling insects is that no one really seems to know how this kind of mind control comes about. The wasp stings the caterpillar, who in turn becomes a bodyguard for the wasp's eggs. Studies have shown that the caterpillar effectively halves the predation of other insects on the eggs. This is not a beneficial relationship between the two in any way, because when the eggs hatched, the caterpillar dies. There are hundreds of different species of wasp that act as parasites on caterpillars, and each does things just a little differently. Can you imagine if you got stung by a wasp, and were suddenly overcome with an urge to guard their nests and die?
5 Sex Crickets (IIV-6/CrIV )
Have you ever thought a zombie virus could be a sexually transmitted disease? In crickets, there is a disease called IIV-6/CrIV that has an interesting vector. It is sexually transmitted, and causes the cricket to want to have sex all the time. In order to continue its own spread, the virus sterilizes both males and females that it infects, because pregnancy would cause the crickets to stop wanting to communicate the virus. Wherein the rabies virus turns its victims into violent psychopaths, this virus turns them into virulent casanovas. An infected male cricket still has sperm, but they cannot swim. Infected females decreased their egg count by over 99%. The crickets do not otherwise show any signs of illness or behaviors that would indicate it is ill in any way.
4 Sacculina Barnacle
Zombies crabs? The sacculina is a type of barnacle that injects itself into a host crab and becomes its master. Instead of doing things that a normal crab would do, such as molting, eating, regenerating and reproducing, it becomes a mind-controlled nanny to the parasite's offspring, devoting all of its energy to the barnacles.
The way this is done is horrific. It inserts itself in one of the crab's joints, and grows long tendrils that root into the crab's entire body. Some of those roots extend into the crab's intestine in order to draw nutrients. Other segments move along the crab's nervous system, and directly into its brain. It causes all sorts of physiological changes as well, such as absorption of its own reproductive glands. It then carries the barnacle eggs like its own eggs, completing the cycle for the larva to move on to new hosts.
3 Zombie Fire Ants (Pseudacteon litoralis )
Fire ants are a scourge to the southern continental United States. And though they cause a lot of damage, and their sting is incredibly painful, I don't know if I could wish this kind of death on anyone. There is a fly known as Pseudacteon litoralis. It uses the fire ants as pseudo-parents for their own offspring. When the fly lands on the ant, it inserts its ovipositor into the ant's leg segments. From it, an appendage like a hypodermic needle shoots an egg into the ant. Normally, if an ant is acting strange, the nest will exile that ant in order to protect themselves. The problem is that even though the larva has burrowed through its body and into its brain to subsist for weeks on its fluids, the ant acts relatively normally during this period. Soon, it controls the ant and leads it away, where it will hatch through the head via DECAPITATION.
There is a parasitic disease that has been shown to do some strange things to the brain of rats. Once a rat is infected, it becomes wired to approach cats. In fact, the parasite causes the rat to think of a cat's odor as an aphrodisiac. The rat falls in love with the cat, chemically. This love causes the rat to seek a cat out. The cat then completes the parasite's cycle by eating the infected rat.
The problem here is that this parasite can also infect humans. It lives in the gut of cats, and it's the reason why pregnant women are urged not to own cats or at the very least, not to change their litter. The fact that a mind controlling parasite can infect humans is enough to make anyone at least a little nervous.
1 Human Diseases (Walking Corpse Syndrome, Nodding Syndrome)
Though rare in most developed countries, there are diseases known to adversely affect the mental health and physical condition of its hosts. Nodding syndrome causes people to become confused pyromaniacs, causing parents to be forced to leash their children in order to make sure they are safe.
Another disease dubbed Walking Corpse Syndrome gives the infected person the belief that they are already dead, or have lost their bodily organs or blood. This "delirium of negation," as it has been called, is a central symptom of Cotard's Syndrome. The first patient of this disease, Mademoiselle X, believed she was a damned soul, and claimed she had already lost several of her own body parts. She denied the need to eat, and soon died of starvation.