You may think your brain is safe. After all, it’s protected by one of the strongest bones in your body – your skull. Even a flesh-hungry monster or animal would have trouble cracking it open. It’s not impossible of course, but tough to do, even with the jaws of a feral creature.
Have you considered its openings to the outside environment? I’m talking of course about your nose. Nice, wide open passages right to your delicious brain for the rightly adaptive hungry creature – single celled, undead or otherwise. Take for instance, our friendly ancestor The Amoeba.
A particular strain of amoeba called Naegleria fowleri is well suited to the task of brain eating. Stealthy brain eating. You can pick up this friendly little guy just swimmig in a lake. Symptoms include stiff neck, headaches and fevers. Nothing too peculiar, until YOU DIE. This particular brain eating organism is usually found in warmer climates and warm water. Brain eating infection occurs rarely, according to the CDC – just 2.5 times a year between 1995 and 2004. It is interesting to note that there have been six victims to the zombie amoeba this year alone.
Take for instance, poor little Aaron Evans of Lake Havasu, AZ. Aaron, 14, went for a swim in a local lake and was dead a week later, his brain eaten. EATEN. If one of the simplest forms of amoeba can evolve to have a particular thirst for brains, how else can it evolve? Scientists have found that certain traits in humans are leftover from millions of years ago, when we were primitive monkey-like creatures. Or if you prefer, they were designed into us. Whatever. The point is, this particular hunger and thirst for brains could lie dormant in our evolutionary cellular memory.
We know humans eat some animal brains. It’s been done. Of course, human brain meat is especially toxic and harbors disease and other bad things you don’t want to ingest. I’m not suggesting such an amoeba is responsible for reanimating tissue and craving brains; that’s foolishness. it’s not a far stretch to claim a particular variant or sub-species of this amoeba could evolve into something much more terrifying. After all, why have one brain when you could eat many, many more. Spontaneous mutation is, of course, a rarity, as it is seldom useful. A certain type of organism is already known to alter brain structure – the hairworm parasite brainwashes grasshoppers into committing suicide so the parasite may reproduce.
Until science further understands Naegleria fowleri, our brains are suspect to a deadly, invisible brain-eating killer. I’ll be staying out of warm stagnant water from now on.