What does it take to become leader of the pack? For wolves in Yellowstone National Park, research shows it might be exposure to a cat-centric parasite.
A recent study by University of Montana and Yellowstone biologists found a remarkable thing about toxoplasma gondii– a single-celled parasite that can survive in almost any warm-blooded animal but only reproduces in felines. It turns out that wolves infected with toxo, as the biologists nickname it, appears to turn wolves into risk-takers. That means they’re more likely to disperse to other packs, and WAY more likely to become leaders of new packs than uninfected wolves.
The study adds to a growing body of evidence indicating that some parasites may have a real ability to change minds – including human minds.
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On this episode, Rob Chaney, editor of the Missoulian newspaper discusses this parasite might be controlling the minds of wolves.
Learn about wolves.
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