Friday, August 12, 2016

The life of a parasite: Australia’s most unloved animals

                                                                 Tapeworms from the intestines of a single echidna.


   Hitching a ride with our kangaroos, platypuses and koalas is the biodiversity you don’t normally see: parasitic worms, or helminths.
   The flukes, tapeworms, roundworms and thorny-headed worms of our native vertebrates lead fascinating lives.
   Some species have evolved a horrific method of hatching, known to biologists as matricidal endotoky, or matricidal hatching. In some species, eggs hatch inside the mother worm and develop to third-stage larvae before bursting from her head, killing her. This is an excellent way for a mother worm to ensure that her offspring reinfect the host in which she lives, but means having children is a once in a lifetime opportunity...

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