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No animals but plenty of zombie insects

March 13, 2013

The absence of zombie animals on “Walking Dead” has not gone unnoticed by the ZombieLaw blog or by the popular media (see recently Conan O’Brien interviewing Robert Kirkman). But it occurs to me that there is a growing media association of “zombie” with insect behavior (of course insects are animals but it’s easy to forget that).

Previous ZombieLaw posts have already told you about zombie ants and bees, zombie honeybee (zombees), zombie caterpillars, cyborg-zombie cockroaches and West Nile zombies.

zombie cockroachzombie david barash evolutionzombee seinfeld

Today, BioScienceTechnology reports “‘Zombie Worm’ Development Unveiled”:

A new study by [Japanese reseachers] Norio Miyamoto and colleagues from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology sheds light on this question through a detailed observation of the postembryonic development and sexual maturation of Osedax worms, also known as “zombie worms.”

The Osedax worm grows on dead whale carcasses (with no mouth or stomach) and has some interesting gender behavior – the female keeps a pocket of immature males for use in constant reproduction. How’s that for zombie boyfriends.

This rapid sexual maturation of females, alongside the male dwarfism which was observed, enables the worms to reproduce effectively in the food-rich, but highly isolated habitat of whale bones.

Similar to zombie insects, note the recent report of molecular cells as zombie – in RDmag: “Zombie” replica cells may outperform live ones as catalysts, conductors

The simple technique coats a cell with a silica solution to form a near-perfect replica of its structure.

I like to call them Zombie in the Shell. Like ghost in the shell? No? How about Zombie in a silicon exo-skeleton? Either way it’s sort of insect-like even if it is a mammalian cell.

An irony of these zombies is the absence of the traditional zombies noteworthy zombie eyes and mouth. Note also the importance of “swarming” for mass movement of zombies, insects and electronic data packets.

There were the popular Zombie Teddy Bears for Valentines Day, also in that Valentines post ZombieLaw cited Sommer and Sommer (2011) “Zoomorphy: Animal Metaphors for Human Personality” Anthrozoös 24(3) 237-248 examining “nonhuman animals as metaphors (zoomorphs) for human personality” and found:

Zoomorphs tend to be male and refer to healthy adult individuals, with little usage referring to disability or infirmity. There is greater zoomorphy for mammal names than for bird, insect or fish names

Notable, bees skewed positive and female whereas the other insects skewed negative and mostly neutral gender, except cockroaches male. Perhaps insect zoomorphs as more pronounced then the researchers discovered and are intermingled with traditional monster metaphors like zombies? Are zombies like insect-humanoids? Maybe not but there sure seems to be media connections of pop-science entomology and zombie metaphors (zombimorphs?).

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