biology zoology blog benno meyer gut feeling

Have you also had that “Gut Feeling”?

Maybe it was a tapeworm

Tapeworms are not the most pleasant guests to entertain in your intestine, but zoologically they are some of the weirdest and most interesting animals I can think of. They live in the gut, but they themselves have none; they reproduce sexually, but don’t need a partner (they practice self-fertilization), which should preclude genetic variety; they are evolutionary far more ancient than their vertebrate hosts, so how did they get there; they are not terribly common, but each one of them can produce millions of eggs; they are usually not dangerous, but one species (the dog tapeworm Echinococcus) can be deadly in humans, if by mistake larvae get into a human body causing hydatidosis or a cyst in the lungs, which my first wife almost died from as a child. And talking about life cycles: actually the larvae of most tapeworms awaits a nightmarish search to find their suitable final hosts (see below). —>—>