On one hand, this is kind of horrifying.
On the other hands, we humans wear leather - how different is that, really? I suppose a point could be made that we don't typically wear entire corpses, but rather first remove the skin, tan it, and then shape it, but that seems a minor quibble.
I think the tipping point for weirdness is the "olfactory camouflage". I mean, it's a brilliant and resourceful tactic for the purpose of infiltrating an ant colony, but it's kind of unnerving translated into a human context. I enjoy the smell of leather, but I recognize that it's not the same as the smell of an untreated cow hide, and certainly wouldn't act as olfactory camouflage for infiltrating a herd of cows.
Thanks, BB. Been a while since an insect has inspired such bizarre philosophical questions in me.
Even when people wear leather, it's not like they're pretending to be a cow. This is pure wolf in sheep's clothing business.
Clearly you haven't been to the weirder portions of the internet yet.
I suggest you bring a towel, and your choice of either bleach or personal lubricant.
Meat Shield? No no, this is a Chitin plate armor, giving it an AC 6.
A meat shield gives you an AC 2 against all seasoning attacks and AC -6 against all dog based weapons.
The Lady Gaga of the insect world?
The image is horrifying.
I'm sure there is a word for what kind of phobia I have that makes the image so disturbing, but I can't look it up because I am going to go loofah with a cheese grater and douse myself in gasoline to get the image out of my brain. Horrifying.
I'm just going to take a moment to say that nature is made of awesome, and we need more biologists working in Hollywood on movie monsters.
This is like the insect equivalent of some World of Warcraft uber-orc warrior wearing a vest of his victim's faces.
With a bandolier of scrotums and ears.
How do you stop at just one critter? There's too much awesomeness to just pick one!
What about Strepsiptera? The twisted winged insects with males with trilobite-like eyes and halteres and wings flip-flopped and a delightful life cycle (the male has to stab the female in the back of the head because she lives inside wasps and such)
Male going off to see the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyaPfR-Mj98
Or we've got the narrow-mouthed toad,commonly kept as a pet by Tarantulas. (really, okay, it's just to eat ants that might eat her eggs, but still, weird)
Or there's the little mite Adactylidium, who probably regrets not just laying eggs, as she always has several females and a male and sort of gives birth live. They make sweet, sweet love inside the mom before eating their way out.
Nature is AMAZING! I could go on for days.
how does it get the ant corpses to grab ahold of one another around its thorax and abdomen?
Do these tangled, rotting corpses make my butt look big?
Fungi you kind of expect to dwell in corpses, as they're non-ambulatory decomposers. Not creepy.
Insects, though? They typically consume and process organic material to fuel their own biology, rather than making use of unprocessed corpse matter as a concealing cloak. (Although there -are- leafcutter ants, I guess...)
Besides, parasitic hijacking of a living nervous system isn't quite the same as fashioning a covering out of a corpse. When the infested ant finally dies, the fungus becomes non-ambulatory once more, at which point it's just like any other fungus growing in any other corpse. The weirdness of the assassin bug is in the active usage of corpses as tools, rather than the passive usage of corpses as a place to grow.
Actually, disarticulate's right, cordyceps is pretty cool.
It's not the bit where they pop out of a critter all fungus like that's cool, it's the bit where they infect them, and (in some species) hack their biology to make them climb up somewhere and clamp on before they die to make sure as many baby fungi as possible have a chance to infect a new critter. That part's pretty funky.
I for one bow before our fungal overlords
it starts with a carefully organised BSDM play. By the time the ants realise whats going on... ehm its too late