An ant being eaten inside out by a deadly zombie mushroom is category winner in a competition focused on the “wonder of nature.”
The BMC Ecology and Evolution competition invited anyone affiliated with a research organization to submit an entry in one of four categories: Research in Action, Protecting Our Planet, Plants and Fungi, and Paleoecology.
João Araújo of the New York Botanical Garden submitted the winning photo for the Plants and Fungi category, showing cordyceps bursting out of the ant’s head.
The detailed picture comes just months after hit HBO series The Last of Us captivated the world about the evolution of Cordyceps to infect humans.
João Araújo of the New York Botanical Garden submitted the winning photo for the Plants and Fungi category, showing cordyceps bursting out of the ant’s head
The overall winner was an image showing bright orange fruiting bodies growing on deadwood in the Australian rainforest, taken by Cornelia Sattler of Macquarie University, Australia.
Researchers from around the world submitted their best images to the magazine, capturing the wonders of the earth and nature.
The photos were also used to understand nature and provide a glimpse into “long-lost worlds,” the publication says.
While Araújo’s photo didn’t win the overall prize, it is reminiscent of the HBO hit series The Last of Us.
The Last of Us tells the story of an apocalyptic world where Cordyceps, the mind-controlling fungus, is migrating from ants to humans due to climate change.
DailyMail.com spoke to Araújo in February about the fungus, which he says likely infected the first ant 45 million years ago.
Araújo further explained that about 35 Ophiocordyceps fungi are known to turn insects into zombies, which are found in the US, Brazil, Japan and parts of Africa.
And now one of his images of the fungus devouring an insect has won a photo contest.
The overall winner was an image showing bright orange fruiting bodies growing on deadwood in the Australian rainforest
Victor Huertas, a postdoctoral fellow at James Cook University’s Hoey Reef Ecology Lab in Australia, captured the winning image for the Research in Action category
However, the winning photo is a stunning display of colorful fungi covering a tree trunk in the Australian rainforest, first identified in 2010 Madagascar, but is now spread worldwide.
Previous research has shown that invasive species such as the European rabbit, root rot fungus and wild boar threaten 82 per cent of Australia’s endangered species.
For this reason, Australia has particularly strict rules for the import of plants, animals and organic substances.
Sattler said: “Despite its innocent and beautiful appearance, the orange fungus is an invasive species that is crowding out other fungi and is spreading throughout the Australian rainforest.”
“It is important to closely monitor this fungus, whose spores are frequently transported by humans, to protect Australia’s biodiversity.”
Arne Traulsen, senior editor, commended the post, saying: “Cornelia Sattler’s image gives us a glimpse into the world of fungi, organisms that are fascinating but yet underestimated and understudied.”
Victor Huertas, a postdoctoral fellow at James Cook University’s Hoey Reef Ecology Lab in Australia, captured the winning image for the Research in Action category.
The winner for “Protecting our planet” went to Roberto García-Roa, an evolutionary biologist. The picture shows a sustainable beekeeping project set up by the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in Guinea
And the final category, “Paleoecology,” was won by a stunning photo showing two eggs and embryos of hadrosauroid dinosaurs from the red strata of Upper Cretaceous China, formed about 72 to 66 million years ago
The photo captures a wonderful moment as the team deploys a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) at Diamond Reef in the Coral Sea Marine Park. This advanced ROV, equipped with multiple photo and video cameras, serves as an important tool for investigations at depths that divers cannot reach.
The winner for Protecting our planet went to Roberto García-Roa, an evolutionary biologist and conservation photographer from Lund University in Sweden.
The picture shows a sustainable beekeeping project set up by the Chimpanzee Conservation Center in Guinea.
Josef Settele, Senior Editor, said: “This photo shows how very different aspects of wildlife conservation can be combined in a win-win situation, while helping to protect our planet and empower local communities at the same time.”
And the final category, “Paleoecology,” was won by a stunning photo showing two eggs and embryos of hadrosauroid dinosaurs from the red strata of Upper Cretaceous China, formed about 72 to 66 million years ago.
Jordan Mallon submitted the image from the Canadian Museum of Nature.
He said, “The relatively small size of the eggs and the unspecialized nature of the dinosaur embryos they contained suggest that the first hadrosaurs laid small eggs and hatched altricial young.”
“More derived hadrosaurs eventually laid eggs nearly four times larger in volume and hatched correspondingly larger young.”
“This digital image shows an example of a ‘primitive’ hadrosaur evolving within the safety of its tiny egg, expertly crafted by Wenyu Ren.”