Tag Archives: zombie

Adult Zatypota wasp. Credit: University of British Columbia.

Gruesome parasitic wasp turns social spiders into ‘zombies’

A newly discovered species of parasitic wasp has one of the most brutal and Machiavellian ways of securing resources. The wasp targets social spiders that live in colonies in the Ecuadorian Amazon, which it infects with larvae that hijack the arachnid’s brains. The spiders are no longer in control, virtually turning into zombies whose only purpose is to do the wasp’s bidding.

Adult Zatypota wasp. Credit: University of British Columbia.

Adult Zatypota wasp. Credit: University of British Columbia.

By far the greater number of wasps (over 100,000 species) are parasitoids which lay their eggs in or on the caterpillars of other insect species. This makes them excellent pest controls and farmers love them because they do little to no damage to crops. In fact, some farmers actually buy parasitic wasps to control insects in their fields.

However, some wasps have taken their freeloading role to a whole new level of gruesomeness. For instance, gall wasps (Bassettia pallida) drill tiny holes in oak trees to eat them from the inside-out. The wasps also use these tunnels, known as ‘crypts’, as shelter and as hatcheries. When the young gall wasps are ready, they will munch through the woody stems and emerge as adults. Another type of wasp, known as Euderus, caught on to this behavior and will lay eggs in these holes, even if they’re occupied by developing gall wasps. In fact, that’s the idea. Once they hatch, the Euderus wasps will chew their way to freedom, eating through the poor gall wasp and emerging through its head! The gall wasp can’t escape because the hole is only big enough to support a developing gall and  Euderus wasp, but not big enough to leave room for the gall wasp’s head to emerge.

The emerald jewel wasp’s strategy, on the other hand, involves “zombifying” cockroaches and injecting them with larvae. The infected cockroach starts grooming extensively, loses its survival instinct and normal responses, and becomes an unwilling host and breakfast for the wasp’s offspring. The offspring wasp will eat the cockroach’s organs in a way that makes the insect stay alive longer, increasing the odds of survival for the offspring. This behavior is rampant that cockroaches had to adapt by using “karate kicks” to protect themselves against the gruesome intruder.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have recently discovered another zombifying wasp while surveying the rainforests of Ecuador. The wasp targets one of only about 25 species of social spiders known in the world. Anelosimus eximius spiders live together in large colonies, where they hunt together and share parental duties.

These spiders will rarely stray from their basket-shaped nests — unless they’ve come across the Zatypota wasp. Philippe Fernandez-Fournier, a former graduate student at the University of British Columbia and lead author of the new study, was puzzled by the strange behavior of some A. eximius spiders, which he saw wandering a couple feet away from the nest. The individuals would spin enclosed webs of dense silk and bits of foliage, known as “cocoon webs”. When some of these structures were collected and examined in the lab, much to everyone’s surprise, the researchers found that these were encasing a wasp.

“Wasps manipulating the behavior of spiders has been observed before, but not at a level as complex as this,” said Philippe Fernandez-Fournier, lead author of the study and former master’s student at UBC’s department of zoology. “Not only is this wasp targeting a social species of spider but it’s making it leave its colony, which it rarely does…These wasps are very elegant looking and graceful. But then they do the most brutal thing.”

Female wasps first lay an egg on the abdomen of the spider, whose larva hatches and then attaches itself to the host. The larva feeds on the spider’s blood-like haemolymph while it is slowly taking over the spider’s body. At some point, the zombified individual starts leaving the colony and spins a cocoon for the larva. After consuming whatever nutrients the spider has left, the larva enters the cocoon fashioned by its arachnid slave, emerging fully developed up to 11 days later.

“But this behavior modification is so hardcore,” Samantha Straus, co-author of the study published in Ecological Entomology and a PhD student at UBC, said in a statement. “The wasp completely hijacks the spider’s behavior and brain and makes it do something it would never do, like leave its nest and spinning a completely different structure. That’s very dangerous for these tiny spiders.”

The researchers believe that the wasps inject the spiders with hormones that make them believe they’re in a different life-stage or cause them to disperse from the colony.

“We think the wasps are targeting these social spiders because it provides a large, stable host colony and food source,” said Straus. “We also found that the larger the spider colony, the more likely it was that these wasps would target it.”

In the future, the researchers plan on returning to Ecuador where they want to further study the same spider colonies and parasitic wasps.

Inside the minds of real-life zombies — people who think they have a dead brain inside a living body

Cotard’s Syndrome patients claim they’re dead or parts of their bodies are dead, rotten. Credit: Max Pixel.

There are literally thousands of mental and personality disorders, some more peculiar than others. Perhaps one of the rarest and oddest mental disorder is Cotard’s syndrome. Patients who suffer from Cotard’s syndrome literally feel like zombies since they’re absolutely convinced that their brain, and possibly other organs, are dead, destroyed or non-existing. The patients also believe they do not need to do activities to keep themselves alive (drink, eat, basic hygiene etc.).

The condition was initially known as “the delirium of negation” and was first described in 1882 by psychiatrist Jules Cotard. In one of his papers, Cotard described the curious case of a patient who claimed she had “no brain, nerves, chest, or entrails, and was just skin and bone” and maintained “that neither God or the devil existed, and she did not need food, for she was eternal and would life forever.”

Not surprisingly, bearing all of this in mind, Cotard’s syndrome is often known as ‘Walking Corpse syndrome’. The rare disorder isn’t classed under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) but it the International Classification of Diseases recognizes it as a “disease of human health” like with “psychosis, clinical depression, and schizophrenia.”

Meet some zombies

There aren’t many cases of Cotard’s syndrome but the few reported instances are all absolutely mindblowing.

One Scottish man who suffered a serious injury to his head following a motorcycle accident in 1996 told his doctors he had died because of complications during his recovery. He later moved from Edinburgh to South Africa with his mother. There he found in the scorching heat all the evidence he needed to confirm he was, in fact, dead. Only Hell could be that hot, the patient concluded.

In 2008, doctors published a paper detailing the case of a 53-year-old Filipino woman who “was admitted to the psychiatric unit when her family called 911 because the patient was complaining that she was dead, smelled like rotting flesh, and wanted to be taken to a morgue so that she could be with dead people.”

Belgian psychiatrists reported in 2009 that an 88-year-old man walked into the hospital claiming he was dead. He felt anxious and concerned because no one had buried him yet. The same doctors treated a 46-year-old-woman who said she had not eaten or gone to the toilet for moths. She also claimed she hadn’t slept in years. The woman explained to the doctors that she was devoid of blood. When doctors showed the woman her blood pressure and put her in front of a monitor that recorded her heart beats, she casually dismissed them. The woman accused the doctors they were deceiving her — after all, she could no longer hear the heart beating anymore.

Perhaps, the oddest case is that of an Iranian 32-year-old man who told doctors in 2005 that he was not only dead but he had turned into a dog. That’s not all — his wife suffered the same fate and his three daughters, he claimed, also died but turned into sheep this time. According to the patient, he was poisoned by his neighbors but nevertheless felt vindicated since God offered him protection even in death.

Some of these patients were able to recover following treatment. Medication doesn’t seem to work too well but symptoms seem to subside following electroconvulsive treatment (ECT). As for what causes Cotard’s syndrome, things aren’t settled yet. According to clinical psychologist Peter Kinderman, the condition may arise after the patient goes through intense periods of distress and confusion. These beliefs can combine to evoke feelings which compel patients to not recognize themselves anymore. The only conclusion that remains for the patient that might explain what they’re going through is that they’re dead. Oddly enough, almost in all cases the patient suffering from Cotard’s waves away any logical explanation that might convince him otherwise, like X-rays of his still intact brain or tissue.

Picking the brain of the ‘dead’

 

What most patients seem to have in common are symptoms of severe depression. New Scientist’s interview with a Cotard’s syndrome patient named Graham is most enlightening in this respect.
“It’s really hard to explain,” he says. “I just felt like my brain didn’t exist any more. I kept on telling the doctors that the tablets weren’t going to do me any good because I didn’t have a brain. I’d fried it in the bath.”
“I didn’t need to eat, or speak, or do anything.”
“I just felt really damn low,” he said.
“I had no other option other than to accept the fact that I had no way to actually die. It was a nightmare.”
His severe angst compelled him on numerous occasions to visit the local graveyard.
“I just felt I might as well stay there. It was the closest I could get to death. The police would come and get me, though, and take me back home.”
“He was a really unusual patient,” said neurologist Adam Zeman at the University of Exeter, UK, who studied the patient. Graham’s belief “was a metaphor for how he felt about the world – his experiences no longer moved him. He felt he was in a limbo state caught between life and death”.
Graham was the first ever Cotard’s syndrome patient who received a PET scan, and the research proved very valuable in demystifying the condition. The PET scan revealed that Graham had cortical hypometabolism in the medium and dorsolateral regions. This sort of activity can pop up in patients with major depressive disorder but nothing like the patterns seen in Graham’s brain.
These brain regions are thought to be part of what neurologists refer to as the ‘default mode network’, which is a complex neural system though to be critical to consciousness. It’s through this network that scientists believe we’re able to piece together the past, think about ourselves and create a sense of self. When this network becomes faulty, patients may risk losing touch with their self — they no longer feel like agents responsible for their own actions.

“I’ve been analysing PET scans for 15 years and I’ve never seen anyone who was on his feet, who was interacting with people, with such an abnormal scan result,” said Steven Laureys at the University of Liège in Belgium.. “Graham’s brain function resembles that of someone during anaesthesia or sleep. Seeing this pattern in someone who is awake is quite unique to my knowledge.”

No other PET scans have been made since so it would be rather speculative to draw definite conclusion from the study of a single individual. What Cotard’s syndrome, and other disorders like it, show us, however, is that we still don’t know much about consciousness. And scary as it may be to read about such peculiar cases, these stories should make us grateful not only for still being alive but also for being able to feel alive.

 

Fungus turns frogs into sex zombies, but then kills off whole species

A new study of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a deadly fungus that affects amphibians worldwide, found that it spreads by making males’ mating calls more attractive to females. The pathogen alters the reproductive habits of different species of amphibians, explaining why frogs and related species continue to disappear across the globe.

“If true—that the fungus is manipulating individuals’ behaviors to facilitate its spread—then this is extraordinary,” says Michael Ryan, a herpetologist at the University of Texas, Austin, who was not involved in the study.

The Japanese frog is one of the few species resistant to Bd. But individuals are still becoming infected.
Image credits to wikimedia user Alpsdake

Bd causes a condition named chytridiomycosis or chytrid fungus disease, which destroys amphibians‘ skins, disrupts their immune systems and ultimately causes heart failure and death. It was first discovered in the 1990s when several species of frogs in Australia and Central and South America went through massive die-offs.

The extinction of hundreds of amphibian species in recent years has been attributed to Bd, and it could potentially affect one third of the amphibian species currently on the planet. While there is no known cure for the fungus, a few species of frogs are known to survive several years after infection — indicating a certain level of adaptation towards fighting it.

But as Bd has been relatively contained up to now and species are being exposed to it for the first time, usually there is little natural defense against the fungus.

“Some people think that amphibian populations are declining primarily due to catastrophic die-offs caused by Bd,” says Bruce Waldman.

“But the story is much more complicated than that.”

Southern mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosa) killed by the chytrid fungus.
Image via sciencedaily

Waldman and his student Deuknam An studied Japanese tree frogs (Hyla japonica) in the wild to find out how Bd affects species seemingly resistant to it. This amphibian, which inhabits area in central Asia, Korea and Japan, hasn’t been experiencing the massive die-offs associated with the pathogen even though individuals are getting infected.

The team studied and recorded the mating calls of 42 male Japanese tree frogs from June to mid-August 2011 (during the mating season) in the rice paddies of South Korea. Here’s a recording of a normal call:

They looked for things such as the number of pulses per note, repetition rate of pulses, number of notes or total duration of the call. Out of this sample, nine frogs tested positive for Bd. These were slightly larger than their uninfected counterparts (40.17mm on average compared to 39.24mm.)

The team also reported that these males became lethargic, but put more effort into their calls compared to the others– for example, they produced longer songs, a trait which females are known to prefer. Here’s a recording of a Bd-infected male:

If you were a female Japanese frog, your lady-frog-parts would be on fire right now.

“Therefore one would expect the amount of calling to be lower in infected males,” Ryan notes.

“But this is not what the study found—and that’s very surprising.”

This suggests, he adds, that Bd can act like a parasite and turn its host into a zombie. These zombie males then go on to spread Bd further in the population by using their fungus-fueled sex appeal: the females they mate with become infected too, and their offspring inherit the fathers’ susceptibility to chytrid fungus disease.

The team hasn’t been able to figure out how Bd changes the host’s behavior, but they to have a theory. They point out that the force of natural selection may be looming over these males, which put an extra effort into their calls in order to reproduce faster as a way to compensate for their shorter lifespans.

But the end result is that while the infected males certainly get more action, the population as a whole is severely harmed.

“Bd has an impact on frog populations even when we don’t see outbreaks of chytridiomycosis,” says Cori Richards-Zawacki, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

Richards-Zawacki recently found that the disease causes male leopard frogs in the lab to up their reproductive efforts. Although it might seem that a species has adapted to Bd and shows no clinical signs of the disease, she says, “in reality it’s still stressed by the infection, which is likely to take a less dramatic but still important toll on the population over time.”

Waldman says that these “sublethal” effects can kill off a species even if it survives the initial die-off from the pathogen.

“Some of these populations that were hard hit are coming back, but slowly. Their populations are small, and that leaves them vulnerable to other random catastrophic events that might lead to extinction.”

The scientists looked at only one frog species—and only one of its life history stages, Waldman also notes.

“It shows that Bd continues to be an enigma.”

Parasite turns plants into fruitless zombies

Many parasites affect their hosts’ behavior, up to the point where the host can sacrifice itself for the wellbeing of the parasite; it’s an extremely cruel fate for the host, but a really good evolutionary adaptation for the parasite. Good examples are horsehair worms that reach water by forcing their cricket hosts to drown themselves, and liver flukes that drive infected ants to climb blades of grass, where cows can eat the insects. Now, scientists described a parasite which makes plants grow more leaves instead of flowers, thus making them more attractive for insects which come and eat them, thus spreading the parasite to more flowers.

Image credits: A.M. MacLean et al. PLOS 2014

At that point, the plant is basically a zombie – and a team of scientists from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, has now described how this works.

“The plant appears alive, but it’s only there for the good of the pathogen,” says plant pathologist Saskia Hogenhout from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK. “In an evolutionary sense, the plant is dead and will not produce offspring.”

Some scientists disagreed with the idea of “zombie plants”, but the research team believes this is a perfectly valid term.

“Many might baulk at the concept of a zombie plant because the idea of plants behaving is strange,” says David Hughes, a parasitologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. “But they do, and since they do, why wouldn’t parasites have evolved to take over their behaviour, as they do for ants and crickets?”

The bacterial plant parasite called phytoplasma relies on insects like leafhoppers (Macrosteles quadrilineatus) for its dispersal to crops like grapes, coconuts, and oilseed rape. It interacts with the plant protein RAD23, and eliminates the plant’s ability to make any more flowers, forcing it to focus on leaf development, which attracts more leafhoppers. The team found that leafhoppers lay more eggs on infected plants. It’s truly a remarkably “evil” mechanism.

“The beauty of the paper is that the bacteria control both plant and insect at the same time with the same protein,” said Hughes. “That’s stunning.”

Scientific Reference.

Decay CERN movie with zombies

CERN scientists direct and release zombie movie

Decay CERN movie with zombies

A still shot from the movie “Decay”. As you can see, the Higgs boson radiation is so effective in animating the dead that not even a bullet straight through the forehead can’t stop this zombie.

A group of scientists and technicians at CERN have made a doomsday movie filmed at their very own facility, called “Decay”, which tells the story of a pack of survivors left to fend for themselves in the onslaught following “Higgs boson radiation” exposure which caused their colleagues to turn zombie and hunger for brains. The low-budget movie was recently released on YouTube were it was greeted rather warmly. It’s well worth mentioning that the movie wasn’t endorsed or supported by CERN in any way, though they did not object to CERN-related references.

Decay is a solely independent work, directed by physics PhD students Luke Thompson and Hugo Day of the University of Manchester in England. The movie took two year to shoot at a cost of a mere $3000. What’s rather surprising and amazing at the same time is that the team actually managed to produce a movie that’s actually watchable, almost. Other B-movie companies invested hundreds of thousands to millions, yet Thompson and Day’s team manage to produce a work that has sound, props and even special effects that give it a realistic touch, as far as zombie doomsday goes anyway.

“The fact is that it’s a no-budget indie and there’s no reason to expect we’d sell more than a few hundred copies,” Thompson explained. “So we’d rather our two years of work was seen by more people by releasing it for free,” he told Wired.

DECAY Trailer 



Nevertheless, by no means should “Decay” be taken too seriously. It’s a total spoof movie which makes fun of both the movie industry, which has exaggerated and portrayed science in an erroneous light for decades and decades, as well the media. If you remember when the LHC was first opened a few years ago, a slew of media reports stamped the  particle accelerator as a doomsday machine, capable of generating black holes and other “mambo-jambo” sure to plunge humankind into oblivion. Science is no voodoo science, and many journalists have no excuse for their ignorance. Besides the wave of panic caused, and the obvious foul consequences that come with spreading untrue rumors and gossip, these statements emphasized mad science stereotypes further and misinformed.  Decay comes as a sort of reply.

Despite the movie is filled with hilarious statements like Higgs boson radiation, it does have some scenes where science is actually accurately described. With this in mind, it’s actually quite an effective medium for popularizing LHC and CERN, if one is sure to put zombies, Higgs radiation and other nonsense aside.

The 76 minute film stars around 20 people some of them students and can be viewed in its entirety below.




 

The myths and folklore behind Halloween’s most popular characters

The spooky Halloween is almost upon us, and the monsters are rubbing their hands, waiting to come out and create chaos and mayhem. But even though kids costume themselves and all, a lot has changed since the early days of Samhaim, the pagan festival from which Halloween originated. In ancient Ireland fairies roamed the streets, playing malicious tricks on everybody who dared to walk at night, witches concocted magic evil potions all around the world, and werewolves came out howling from the forests. But what is the truth behind these myths and legends ? We’ve gathered a bunch of myths and stories, and I’m gonna let you decide what the truth is; if you have the courage, that is…

Vampires

The belief in vampires is as old as man itself, and throughout the years, many cultures have displayed a profound belief in such mythological creatures that feed on the life essence (usually blood) of other beings. Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Romans, even the Greeks – they all believed that when the sun comes down, white skinned phantomatical creatures with long teeth and a thirst for blood come out of their coffins, just waiting to suck the very life out of as much people as possible. Even in the English language, the word “vampire” exists since 1734, but it wasn’t until Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula that the archetypal sophisticated vampire was established.

Dracula, the movie

Dracula was believed to come from Transylvania, a region in Romania; he was a member of an ancient order, called the Order of the Dragon, and ruled Wallachia, a neighboring region as Vlad Dracul (Vlad the Devil). It is still not certain exactly why he is believed to be Dracula, but he was extremely cruel and he did have a thirst for blood – maybe in the literal way too.

Brad Pitt, in one of the most popular modern vampire stories

Other cultures have other vampires, but what’s interesting is that most rituals are actually the same. For example, identifying the coffin of a vampire in a graveyard required walking a virgin stallion through the graveyard; the horse was supposed to balk at the vampire’s tomb. Mirrors are also a good way to discover and ward vampires, because it is commonly believed that they have no reflection. Also, the methods of protection against vampires are pretty much the same: garlic is always good to have around. In some countries, during Halloween, huge piles of garlic are put in every window to prevent unwanted… guests. Staking is the best way to get rid of vampires, that we know of, but it’s also the hardest; vampires are known to be fast and extremely agile, so it’s best to do it during daytime, when they sleep.

Their favorite hang around places are graveyards and churches, but they can get around pretty much everywhere, and they can blend in perfectly when the sun comes down. You’d best keep an eye out for people with white skin and big teeth. There isn’t a special connection between vampires and Halloween, but if you go to the right places, you are bound to see at least a few.

Werewolves

Werewolves are nasty creatures; they were once humans, but now, they periodically or permanently change into antropomorphic animals, most commonly wolves. Lycantropes, as they are also called, become this way after being bitten by another werewolf, or after being placed under a powerful curse. They have the raw power and speed of the wolf, but they also have the intelligence and cunning of the man, which makes them some of the most powerful and feared monsters in the whole world.

In folklore, one of the most common signs of a werewolf is the joining of the eyebrows above the nose – this is the first sign of lycantropy. They were mentioned numerous times in European and African myths, especially in the huge forests in Russia. They were so feared, that people started to begin they wore the taint of the Devil himself, as writes Richard Verstegan (Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, 1628):

[werewolves] are certayne sorcerers, who having annoynted their bodies with an ointment which they make by the instinct of the devil, and putting on a certayne inchaunted girdle, does not only unto the view of others seem as wolves, but to their own thinking have both the shape and nature of wolves, so long as they wear the said girdle. And they do dispose themselves as very wolves, in worrying and killing, and most of humane creatures.

The ancient Greeks wrote some fascinating ideas about werewolves. For example, History’s father, Herodotus wrote that the Neuri, a tribe he places to the north-east of Scythia, were all transformed into wolves once every year for several days, and then changed back to their former shape – a shocking resemblance to other myths. Virgil, one of the most famous Roman poets wrote in a similar fashion. Other reputed people shared stories of werewolves; one of the most shocking was featured in the Satyricon:

“When I look for my buddy I see he’d stripped and piled his clothes by the roadside…He pees in a circle round his clothes and then, just like that, turns into a wolf!…after he turned into a wolf he started howling and then ran off into the woods.”

Werewolves are vulnerable to almost nothing. The only thing known to cause serious damage to them is silver. A silver blade, or a silver bullet will be deadly, but some reports claim that the mere touch of the metal will cause severe burns to the werewolf.

Werewolves like to hand around forests and farms, they cry out like wolves and are drawn by fullmoon. However, Halloween seems to draw them out more than a fullmoon, and at times, they even come out in packs, striking their victims without giving them any hope whatsoever.

Witches

Basically speaking, witches are people who practice witchcraft – and they love Halloween more than any other day of the year. Witchcraft was given a really awkward reputation during the dark ages, when Christianity ruled Europe, and when they ruled witchcraft as a criminal offense that should be punished by death. Speaking of it, there was quite a special way in which it was usually determined if somebody (usually women) was a witch. They tied her to some logs and/or rocks, and if she floated, she was a witch and had to die. If she sunk, and died, she wasn’t a witch, and… well, that’s that.

Witchcraft was common absolutely everywhere in the world. You’ve got shamans, voodoo people, warlocks and even necromancers, in one variation or another on every continent in every corner of the world. There are in fact so many types of alleged witches that it is practically impossible to catalogue them all; there are even stories (though not very many) of good witches, that use spells and potions to benefit others. Most however, are malitious at least, or evil at worst.

Halloween and witches are connected at every level. At first, Samhain (the celebration that originated Halloween) marks the end of the third and final harvest, but also the time when the Crone goddess mourns the death of the old God. It is the time when all the dead souls return to her cauldron of life and death, awaiting to be reincarnated. It is these souls that make the witches’ powers tenfold in the night of Halloween, so this is why they have very special plans for tonight. The Witches greatest Sabbath is scheduled for Halloween night, and even though you may not see witches that often, that’s because they like to stay hidden, waiting and plotting in the dark, waiting for the day they will finally be able to take their rightful place in the world.

Fairies

“Fairy” has different etymologies and different meanings in different languages. Despite today’s common belief that fairies are good natured and helpful (a belief largely promoted by Peter Pan), folklore tells us a somewhat different story. Usually, they are some sort of demons or undead beings, while in other stories they are elementals or air spirits.

Still, fairies are not evil, but rather malitious. A fairy will never try to throw the world in darkness, but may steal a baby every now and then, but usually they just known for their mischief and malice, playing everyday planks on people. Cold iron is the most common protection against fairies, which could come quite in handy, because in most legends they are not the small benevolent winged beings you might know, but would be rather a large, glowing figure.

As with many other mythological creatures, they are drawn in large numbers on Halloween, so usual light pranks may turn into a big ordeal on Samhain. There is however another belief, that fairies gather on Halloween to protect people from other malevolent spirites, such as witches or goblins. Either way, their intent and wishes are not yet clear, and maybe this Halloween will show us more clearly what fairies are like.

Zombies

Yeah, we know zombies. They may be slow, but they’re hard to stop, and they’re nasty. Halloween draws out more zombies than ever. It’s not quite clear if they come out because of all the spiritual energy of the day, of they are somehow summoned by witches or other spellcasters, but one thing’s for sure: zombies are the centerpiece of Halloween.

There aren’t many old legends and folklore about zombies, except for Haitian and other cultures that practiced voodoo. There have been many studies regarding the phenomenon, including medical research, the most famous of which was conducted by Wade Davis, a Harvard ethnobotanist, but zombies have gotten a lot of attention in modern culture, and this Halloween we’ll be definitely hearing a lot from them.

Demons

Demons are the top of the piramid when it comes to evil. They are at the core of every evil doing, and are responsible for every major plan concocted by supernatural creatures. Present in every mythology, as well as Christianity or Islamism, demons can rarely enter our plain of existence though.

However, Halloween is the time to be a demon. It is said that during this day, portals open that bound every plain of existance, so demons can enter freely in our world, given the right conditions. These conditions usually have to be fulfilled by lesser evils.

The legends and folklore about demons are so many you can’t fully characterize demons; some say they are fallen angels, some say they are evil powerful spirits, while others claim they are just energy, without a body of their own, waiting for one to possess. Either way, the word around the demon world is that they’re planning something big this Halloween, so best keep an eye out.

[These are just myths and folklore, tied together by figments of my immagination. Hope you had fun reading this post, I definitely did writing it. And have a happy bloody Halloween !]