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Jul 08 2013
By: tch2296 Hekseville Citizen 261 posts
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Progression and Prevalence of Cordyceps Fungus (No Spoilers Please)

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5 replies 298 views Edited Jul 8, 2013

I have just begun playing the game and the whole cordyceps idea is super fascinating to me, especially after watching the episode of Planet Earth where they showed the "Zombie Ant" (search it on youtube) which looked kinda like a stalker, with fungus growing out of it. It has been infected by a strain of cordyceps, as many arthropods area. The fungus affects the ants brain, causing it to immediately search out an area where the fungus can grow and produce spores. The ant will usually climb to a location with optimum temperature and humudity, then clamp with enormous force onto a leaf. At that point, the cordyceps invades the ant's entire body, killing it, and, grotesquely, the fungus' fruit bursts out of the base of the ant's skull, looking like something out of a nightmare.

 

For whatever reason, the whole idea of a fungal infection affecting humans like this REALLY freaks me out, and I absolutely love how Naughy Dog has chosen to imbue as much realism as possible into this masterpiece (compared to Uncharted, for example). The fungus may actually be capable of influencing primate brains since certain bacteria, commonly known as toxoplasmosis (T. gondii for the more scientifically minded of you), have been shown to influence rats. It casues the rat to lose its fear of cats, even being drawn to the scent of their urine. It does this by somehow rewiring the part of the brain involved in fear, sex, and basic survical drives. 

 

To me this is incredible, especially considering that current scientific estimates are that 30-50% of humans are infected with T. gondii. The scientist in me knows that there is a fundamental limit to the ability of fungus to thrive in warm-blooded animals, and due to some experience cultivating some very special mushrooms, it seems unlikely, consifering the life cycle of fungus, that it could cause somebody to flip otu so quickly, but hey, you never known what nature's gonna throw at you next, right?

 

Does the game reveal much about what happened in the 20 years between Texas and Boston? How society fell apart? How the fungus was able to infect people so effectively, and why some were able to survive? If so, I can't wait! If not, how do you guys think this fungus made it into the food supply/air/water?

 

Lastly, do any of you think a scenario like this might happen someday, albeit in a less dramatic and less rapid manner?

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Splicer
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Re: Progression and Prevalence of Cordyceps Fungus (No Spoilers Please)

Jul 8, 2013

great post ive often thought the same things. i had some prior knowledge of cordyceps and t.gondii before and always found it interesting so when i heard cordyceps was the cause of infection in the last of us i was pretty excited lol it does seem like its not too farfetched for it too infect humans. but back to your questions, someone pointed out to me that the newspaper in the beginning says the fungus grew on the food contaminating it, but how it got there im not sure. as for the 20 years between, i think the only time that period is mentioned is in the opening credits. P.S. just a side note be prepared for about 10 to 15 annoying replies about how the last of us is just a story about joel and ellie not how the infection started. happens in every post like this haha as if we didnt know that

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Re: Progression and Prevalence of Cordyceps Fungus (No Spoilers Please)

Jul 8, 2013

csmith226 wrote:

great post ive often thought the same things. i had some prior knowledge of cordyceps and t.gondii before and always found it interesting so when i heard cordyceps was the cause of infection in the last of us i was pretty excited lol it does seem like its not too farfetched for it too infect humans. but back to your questions, someone pointed out to me that the newspaper in the beginning says the fungus grew on the food contaminating it, but how it got there im not sure. as for the 20 years between, i think the only time that period is mentioned is in the opening credits. P.S. just a side note be prepared for about 10 to 15 annoying replies about how the last of us is just a story about joel and ellie not how the infection started. happens in every post like this haha as if we didnt know that


LOL you're totally right I was just waiting for someone to step in sayin "This story isn't about that!" Whis is true, and I understand that, which was why I was curious about what happened in between. That newspaper is in the bathroom directly opposite of Sarah's bedroom door in the very first scene of the game. It mentions massive recalls of food and that contaminated crops were suspected as the cause, but, again just out of curiosity, I wish I knew what had happened between. Like if there had been World Wars battling over resources, what happened on other continents, etc.

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Re: Progression and Prevalence of Cordyceps Fungus (No Spoilers Please)

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Jul 8, 2013

tch2296 wrote:

csmith226 wrote:

great post ive often thought the same things. i had some prior knowledge of cordyceps and t.gondii before and always found it interesting so when i heard cordyceps was the cause of infection in the last of us i was pretty excited lol it does seem like its not too farfetched for it too infect humans. but back to your questions, someone pointed out to me that the newspaper in the beginning says the fungus grew on the food contaminating it, but how it got there im not sure. as for the 20 years between, i think the only time that period is mentioned is in the opening credits. P.S. just a side note be prepared for about 10 to 15 annoying replies about how the last of us is just a story about joel and ellie not how the infection started. happens in every post like this haha as if we didnt know that


LOL you're totally right I was just waiting for someone to step in sayin "This story isn't about that!" Whis is true, and I understand that, which was why I was curious about what happened in between. That newspaper is in the bathroom directly opposite of Sarah's bedroom door in the very first scene of the game. It mentions massive recalls of food and that contaminated crops were suspected as the cause, but, again just out of curiosity, I wish I knew what had happened between. Like if there had been World Wars battling over resources, what happened on other continents, etc.


 

This is the main reason I want a sequel in Europe or another contintent other than the U.S(not hating on U.S but we already have one there). I think it'd be cool to find out other continents have different type of infected depending on the area. I.e a swamp area has infected that have adapted to the wet area and moldy etc. I, personally, want to see what's happened to the arctic areas. Is the fungus even there? If it is, how has it adpated to survive these conditions?

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Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

- John F. Kennedy
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Re: Progression and Prevalence of Cordyceps Fungus (No Spoilers Please)

Jul 8, 2013

i never thought about world wars i just thought it would be humans against infected. thats pretty interesting though. as for the other countries i thought about that as well places like russia britain and japan would be cool to find out about. i feel its safe to say the infection started in the us so other countries probably would have had a heads up or a general idea of whats going on so im interested in how they fared tho not well im guessing

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Re: Progression and Prevalence of Cordyceps Fungus (No Spoilers Please)

Jul 12, 2013

csmith226 wrote:

i never thought about world wars i just thought it would be humans against infected. thats pretty interesting though. as for the other countries i thought about that as well places like russia britain and japan would be cool to find out about. i feel its safe to say the infection started in the us so other countries probably would have had a heads up or a general idea of whats going on so im interested in how they fared tho not well im guessing


Yeah, that would be really cool to find out if things went differently in other areas of the world, if different strains of corfyceps would develop (which might actually be likely consindering the incredibly high rate of mutation the fungus must have to have passed to humans so quickly). High mutation rate + short incubation period = potential apocalypse. Maybe some of the DLC will concern these issues. Does anyone have any indication (I mean offical indication) what the DLC will be about? The last time I checked hte season pass seemed a bit cheap, which is nice, but could also mean there won't be much of it.

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