By Tim Binnall
A hiker in Taiwan was mystified when he stumbled upon a strange snail that sported pulsating green and orange tentacles. The creepy-looking creature was reportedly spotted by a tourist named Lin Ruian who was exploring a hillside in the country's Changhua County. The man's visit came to a screeching halt when he noticed something flashing on the ground and looked down to see the very weird creature that he initially did not believe was real.
To the delight of some and, no doubt, the horror of others, Ruian managed to film the eerie snail and the footage is rather mesmerizing. And, it turns out, the reason for the creature's unsettling appearance may be more unnerving than the way that it looks. According to wildlife experts, the unfortunate snail had fallen victim to a parasitic flatworm that had seized control of its body and turned the creature into a proverbial zombie.
In this particular instance, the sinister snail usurper was able to cause the creature's tentacles to pulse in a manner so that they resembled a caterpillar. The purpose of that, scientists say, is to attract birds that will prey on the snail and also ingest the parasite which will then be able to reproduce inside its new avian host Ultimately, the bird will unknowingly deposit a whole new generation of the flatworms out into the world via its droppings and a subsequent slew of snails will be ensnared by the pernicious parasite.