Essay by Eric Worrall
You know it had to happen – but the one scene explaining that the problem was caused by global warming is entertaining nonsense.
The mushroom zombies in The Last of Us are fictional, but real mushrooms can infect humans and become more resilient
Published: Feb 24, 2023 8:32 am AEDT
Professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University
A lot of the people watching The Last of Us are probably there because of the zombies.
I love the zombies too, but I’m really into the mushroom.
I’ve been studying fungi since my PhD in the 1980’s and every year I’m more fascinated by these amazing organisms.
In the HBO series and the video game that inspired it, a parasitic fungus — a fictional mutation of the very real Cordyceps — jumps from insects to humans and quickly spreads across the world, leaving its victims helpless, their minds and… to control actions. Far-fetched fear-mongering about mushrooms? It’s definitely fictional, but maybe not as absurd as it might seem.
Read more: https://theconversation.com/the-fungus-zombies-in-the-last-of-us-are-fictional-but-real-fungi-can-infect-people-and-you-becoming- more-resistant-200224
There is a grain of truth in their yarn. Cordyceps mainly infects insects, taking control of their actions and causing them to help the fungus complete its reproductive cycle – until it eventually sprout through the insect’s body. Don’t click the link unless you have a strong stomach.
So what caused these Cordyceps to infect humans? The opening scene of the first episode explains that Cordyceps evolved the ability to attack humans because global warming has helped the fungus adapt to our body heat.
And then – no more references to global warming. At least so far. The characters in the story have bigger problems. Just a fast-paced horror film, entertaining brain junk food.
I will keep watching. Let’s hope I don’t regret my recommendation.
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