Leader of the Pack

‘Mind control’ by parasites influences wolf-pack dynamics in Yellowstone National Park
By Kate Golembiewski, CNN
Updated 10:04 AM EST, Wed November 30, 2022 

Wolves are pack animals, living in family groups led by a matriarch and her mate.

A mind-controlling parasite might be affecting the behavior of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park. (https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/30/world/mind-control-parasite-toxoplasmosis-wolves-scn/index.html)

Some wolves stay with their pack their whole lives, helping hunt and raise pups like aunts and uncles as they mature, but others split off to find a mate of their own and start their own packs.

There are lots of factors that go into these types of behavior, such as quirks of personality and family relationships established as pups, but new scientific findings revealed a surprising influence on wolf-pack dynamics: a mind-controlling parasite that makes a gray wolf engage in riskier behavior.

Researchers found that gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park infected with a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii were more likely to leave the group of wolves they were born into or become a pack leader.

The startling revelations could change scientists’ understanding of wolf-pack dynamics and improve conservation efforts for an apex predator that plays a major role in the health of its mountain ecosystem.


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