Parasites can dramatically change the behaviour of their hosts. A parasitic worm turns a tropical ant berry-red and causes it to climb high, attractive prey for birds, the worm’s next host. A mouse infected by toxoplasma gondii no longer fears cats – making it easier for the parasite to be eaten by its next host, a cat. A jewel wasp precisely injects neurotoxins into its cockroach prey’s brain. These parasite manipulations can tell us how brains, including our own, work normally.
Tristram Wyatt is a scientist and award-winning author. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, an emeritus fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford, and a visiting lecturer at University College London.
He did his PhD in animal behaviour at the University of Cambridge. He’s interested in how animals of all kinds use pheromones to communicate by smell. His Cambridge University Press book on pheromones and animal behaviour won the Royal Society of Biology’s prize for the Best Postgraduate Textbook in 2014. His TEDx talk on human pheromones has been viewed over a million times.
His book Animal behaviour: A Very Short Introduction was published by Oxford University Press in 2017.