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What is a Zombie? For many of us, a zombie is an undead creature revenant created through the reanimation of a corpse. This is easy language means the ‘undead’, those who live past their death. The term Zombie has often been described as a flesh-eating decaying corpse that does not possess a brain has surged to its popularity in the recent era. With movies like Walking Dead, Zombie apocalypse, and Dawn of the dead, the term Zombie doesn’t seem to be alien anymore. It has become a popular antagonist gaining recognition from its folklore importance.

With this global fame, one thing is sure that the world might be possibly organizing a combat method for fighting an apocalypse. So, with this, a question arises- how would you survive a z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e? But more than this, could we possibly encounter a Zombie in real life?

The first tales of Zombies appeared in Haiti in the 17th and 18th centuries with the advent of the slave trade in English and French colonies. Zombies are mentioned in the Haitian rural folklore as an undead creature revived by the acts of necromancy and also seek connection with the atrocities faced by the slaved Africans and their treatment at work. The cruel conditions of black people longing for their freedom serve as the basis of the zombie origin.

Do zombie-like beings actually exist in nature?

One of the greatest fears of humanity also backed by many Sci-fi movies is now believed by scientists as well, as they do believe that a zombie outbreak could happen in real life. And while they might not resemble supernatural creatures shown in ‘All of us are dead’, a parasite could possibly affect our brain or a virus could evolve into something humanity has never seen before.

A parasite called toxoplasmosa gondii is known to infect the brains of rodents. This parasite manipulates the mind of rodents and make them fearless and behave unusually. It could make a rodent walk towards predators knowing that they would eat them. There is also a fungus from the genus Ophiocordyceps that invades insect victims, spreads, and eventually takes over the host mind within a few days. This fungus then controls the host’s body forcing it to climb up high when it bursts out of the victim’s head and falls down.

Additionally, certain bacteria, known as “phytoplasma,” turn some plants into “zombies.”  If this bacterium infects plant-like goldenrod, it can alter the host’s will to make it grow elements that require spread and thrive. For example, of growing goldenrods buds, the plant will instead grow a leaf life extension that attracts insects resulting in mobilizing the bacteria from one plant to another. In essence, the host plant becomes living dead as it only serves as a template for bacteria spread.

Another possible factor could be driven by Genome editing. There have been numerous theories already on the factors of gene editing gone wrong. Replacing a single letter in DNA could splinter the whole concept of new possibilities that can either prove a revolution in mankind or a catastrophe to end it. It could alter pathogens to become more trans transmissible or fatal. But even if a zombie-like disease could be created, it cannot make deceased people reawaken as zombies. This way of weaponizing pathogens could create a zombie-like apocalypse!

The question that arises now is that could we stand against such gene-edited pathogens?


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