A recent article at the Scientific American takes a close look at the science behind a deadly zombie virus unleashed in the new video game The Last Of Us, where more than half of the world’s population is wiped out by the parasitic fungus known as Cordyceps.
Members and regular readers of the Zombie Research Society are more than familiar with Cordyceps unilateralis and the truly horrific transformation it can cause to common ants. Less familiar, however, is Cordyceps ignota… known for sprouting deadly, yet strangely beautiful mycelium, from the bodies of infected tarantulas.
Without an actual species to pin the apocalypse on, The Last of Us uses a clever combination of Cordyceps attributes. Like the ant-infector, the fungus that brings down humanity turns a host into a drone to eventually do its bidding. And like the species of Cordyceps that turns tarantulas into art, the fictional fungus creates elaborate sprouting bodies off the host. The mix of art design and plausibility gives the choice to model an apocalypse on Cordyceps both scientific rigor and beauty.
The critically acclaimed video game from Naughty Dog combines these species of Cordyceps to create a brand new strain of fungus capable of infecting the entire human race and spreading a terrible zombie-like virus throughout the world.
To learn more about the various species of Cordyceps and the real science behind the frightening fungus featured in The Last Of Us, including some amazing photos and insightful commentary from author Kyle Hill, please feel free to read the original article online at the Scientific American.