Art and words of Josh Burns.

Human Afflicting Strain of Cordyceps Fungus

This Poor soul was inspired by an episode of Planet Earth that introduced me to a little thing called a cordyceps fungus. This image is an example of a super advanced Human strain the parasitic fungus. In this sad gentleman’s case he is not granted death like the ant in the video below.

The following is meant to be a description of the Human Afflicting Cordyceps as if it were being featured on a nature show.

The first symptoms of infection are psychological the host becomes withdrawn and emotionless. Later stages of infection find the hosts being drawn to dark moist locations, under bridges, Storm sewers, parking garages and musty basements are common spots. After the body ceases locomotion for over a day a chemical is released that keeps the host, aware and alive but unable to move their body voluntarily. Now the process in which the parasite slowly turns the body into its spore factory begins. The bones grow up and out creating a V shape, the skin calcifies and hardens, almost turning it to an exoskeleton.

The cordyceps’ cocktail of neurotoxins activates a base instinct of survival the brain, if approached a primary instinct to survive kicks in, and the host will attack and kill if necessary. Motion during the transformation slows the maturation of the spores, so the cordyceps stay stationary in dark places during most of the transformation. As the transformation progresses the skull splits and a stalk protrudes from the opening. At this point the maturation of the spores is almost complete. The Final stage of the cordyceps’ cycle is airborne infection. Through the entire process the spores have been inert. In a final act of evolutionary biological war the spores become infectious. The switch from inert to infectious releases a chemical that pours down the stalk and into the exposed brain. This chemical neutralizes the chemical paralyzing the host. For the first time in the approximate four-week maturation the host is able to move voluntarily. Adrenalin and panic are the means by which this cordyceps fungus perpetrates. Aware and able to move the host will attempt to get help, moving to populated areas and putting all those in the area in danger, as the spores spray out of the stalk into the air. The host will die within minutes. The best way to take of a cordyceps Infected is to kill it with fire!! There is no cure.

The look of this one was inspired by the work of Wayne Douglas Barlowe, his “Inferno” sketches to be specific.

To find out more about real Cordyceps Fungi check out the video below… OR at your local library!


38 responses

  1. Jessica

    I would make a good movie

    July 23, 2010 at 8:53 am

    • Jaime

      It is. The cordycepts concept coming out Halloween 2013 for the horro anthology collection.

      October 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm

  2. Jessica

    Would make a good movie

    July 23, 2010 at 8:56 am

  3. Daniel Fuller

    This kind of thing would make an AWESOME zombie-type videogame. Or perhaps leave out the infected’s death and make the player play as them and seek out a cure. Or maybe have the infected turn superhuman and have an uncontrollable desire to infect all living things, making the player an average Joe who, with their not-so-trusty hazmat suit that lets them get near the infected, must go from city to city taking out the infected that terrorize and infect the populace? Perhaps during fights with infected, their superhuman speed and strength will make one strategize rather than trying to shoot or use melee combat, which will result in a dodge. Once the infected has been stunned, it must be set alight. It could be stunned by sharp impact, introducing a certain chemical into the air, being pierced, etc… Just a thought.

    March 3, 2011 at 6:47 am

    • Thanks for the comment. I had thought it would make a good game too. I envisioned a game where the main character was a scientist, and you had to go into heavily infected areas to get certain types of samples, or even capture live specimens…of course, all the while fending off hoards of infected.

      March 4, 2011 at 12:46 am

    • Chris

      Check out the last of us for playstation 3 @

      December 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    • jared

      they did use this idea, there is a new game called the last of us coming out that uses this idea

      May 21, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      • Yeah I know, it looks pretty good too. Naughty Dog had done great things with the Uncharted franchise. Perhaps Last of Us will be their next.

        May 22, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    • Look for The Last of Us Game.
      You’ll thank me later!!!

      June 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      • The game looks pretty good, in addition it’s being done by the same studio behind Uncharted.

        July 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    • k

      they are making that sort of game, its called ‘the last of us’

      July 10, 2012 at 7:49 am

    • The Last of Us

      March 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    • You predicted “The Last of Us!”

      May 25, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    • Frank

      already a game, The Last of Us

      June 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      • Bryce

        you’re dumb. The previous person predicted it, it’t not “already a game.” They made that comment more than 2 years before the game came out.

        July 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    • Zel

      2 years later, and look at “The Last of Us”
      IT MADE IT.

      June 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    • alan

      the last of us =)

      June 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    • Jrzfine

      Google The Last of Us.

      June 26, 2013 at 1:20 am

    • You mean like the Last of us?

      July 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    • underworld999

      The LAst of Us…

      August 1, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    • Quinn

      pretty sure naughty dog stole your idea haha. Last Of Us much?

      August 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    • Ellie

      Consider it done. Your wish has come true. Go look up The Last of Us and enjoy. 😉

      September 11, 2013 at 6:53 pm

  4. ryan

    X-Files did it

    May 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    • Thanks for Commenting. Although the concept is similar, the end result it is radically different. The host is almost inhuman by the end of the incubation. I used to watch the X-files when I was a kid… it’s not surprising that something would creep it’s way back.

      May 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm

  5. dave

    wow a human cordyceps scary. i saw a movie about this it was a 1963 japanese movie called attack of the mushroom people it was corny yet scary i liked it anyways.i do wonder if such a fungi could exist as a small time mycologist it really like and worry about the truth of it

    September 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm

  6. truthsayer

    ha, theres a game coming out which this apears to be the central theme for…

    December 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm

  7. it’s going to make a good game

    December 11, 2011 at 1:59 am

  8. garygaz

    So it is going to be a game 🙂

    December 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm

  9. xander

    Its now a videogame! The Last Of Us is being developed by Naughty Dog, the incredible makers of the Uncharted series! Look out for it in 2012-2013!

    December 14, 2011 at 6:46 am

  10. Pingback: Human Afflicting Cordyceps Fungus (Update) « Flammable Things

  11. Pingback: Hardly a Cure « Flammable Things

  12. Thad

    I eat Cordyceps every day for an auto-inflammatory disorder. The other day I found myself with a strong desire to climb a telephone pole. haha. No seriously it doesn’t affect humans that way. It’s an immunity protector with some benefits to overall yin/yang, attitude and many others. Chinese medicine.

    June 17, 2012 at 9:54 am

    • That’s actually pretty interesting. Best of luck with that telephone pole. hopefully somebody will carry you to the edge of town before your spores burst haha.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm

  13. The monsters in the film Splinter look sort of like this.

    March 1, 2013 at 2:38 pm

  14. I really enjoyed reading this. I recall Primeval doing something similar a while back, though I wasn’t surprised to discover that the concept has appeared in other places before as well.

    June 11, 2013 at 11:46 am

  15. Josh Oli.

    Cordyceps does have the ability to infect humans but only those with weakened immune systems such as someone who is infected with HIV or a drug attic or alcoholic. The thing is it isn’t how you’d imagine it. It cannot grow in environments warmer or colder than 35°C and only seems to infect mostly just the eye region. Really people should be worried. What if it was evolved and used as a biological weapon? Not saying it will happen but anything is possible o_O

    June 12, 2013 at 5:50 am

    • Bob

      True true anything is possible it could evolve to infect humans like it does to the ants and then in about 20 years we will only be The Last of us.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:30 pm

  16. Well as much as i know this ant fungi DOES exist i must say this totally is like the fungi in the new game by nuaghty dog “The Last Of Us” has the cordyceps fungi BUT on humans
    and is a post-apocalypic world with the cordyceps on humans. The outbrake in the start its true first your a regular person (ant becouse the “The Last Of Us” is not real) then you are taken over by a infection. When you notice its time to sit down and become a spore then in the game you become a clicker (in a real life term spore and you don’t really move at all.) The game the game “The Last Of Us” is based off the real life fungi that only infects insecs good thing most people don’t eat ant but other animals do and some where on the food chain lies humans and mater-in-fact may go to humans and we could end up in the last of us game but without Ellie, Joel, Tess, Bill and Marleen and all the other. There is one problem, the cure. Even in “The Last Of Us” there is a way to cure but its very easy.
    In real live its harder. People are not ammune to something as something as deadly as a disease/infection/sickness the Spanish flu is more deadly then anything and killed 5% of the world in one year. To not catch anything you need to be clean and weathy. There is no ammune people thats not real live i hate to face it but if this happens to humans we will die fast and if this travles to other places by planes and boats it takes one infected person to kill things if you has played “The Last Of Us” keep reading this long but true message Ellie thinks the Fireflies needs a blood sample that may be true in real live people who are not sick may be able to donnate blood and science may be able to make a cure in real live
    that may not be 100% true its my thery as in the ending to the game i must say Joel lied and made a BIG MISTAKE in real life people would do the same thing becouse we are selfish things we would protect what we care about to Joel Ellie is like a second chance at his kid if that was in real life we would do anything to protect the things we care for and love it does not matter if it will save the world humans are selfish. thank you for reading my message sorry for the such long message i just wanted to say

    July 17, 2013 at 4:43 pm

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