Nature Shock - The Zombie Alligators If you close the width of your web browser, its easier to read down, and my fingers ache typing it Did anyone see this very interesting documentary on five, a few days ago?, i watched it last night. There was a spate of alligator deaths in Lake Griffin, Florida. They found a lot of alligators turned over floating in the water with their bellies up, dead. But suddenly some of them came back alive, they were not dead, but completely lethargic. Some were dead, the scientists were puzzled. Eventually the sick alligators did die. So the tests started with autopsies, they checked every organ for a lot of things and they came back normal. Then they checked the blood, put some of the worlds deadliest virus, bacteria in with the blood, from e-coli, even the aids virus, the blood cells beat of all enemy viruses (wonder if they can cure humans in the future). The sick alligators show a lack of response, were very lethargic, so next they checked the brain. I could not believe what they pulled out of the skull, the brain is the size of a golf ball!, they sent this off for analysis, and this is where things started to show up, all these tests etc, went over months, years, anyway someone noticed amongst the healthy pink cells, there were lighter paler cells, looking closer they noticed the neurons were dead, this would explain the problem with moving the muscles, alligators drowning in the water, unable to keep their heads up above water. So the next thing was to find out how this was happening, these creatures have been around for millions of years, and it is unheard of 100's of alligators dying and the most common thing that has really changed is the environment, people and pollution, so they started tests on the water checking for the common pollutants like lead, mercury, pesticides, but again the test came back normal, from the 'muck' farms close by, the people's houses with their swimming pools with chorine, the boats with their marine fuels, and more, none of these chemicals, etc were to any dangerous levels. So digging deeper and checking the water more, they found invisible to the naked eye, algae, microscopic algae was unnaturally high in concentration in the lake, and they traced nutrients back to the 'muck' farms that were being flushed into lake, nutrients are needed for plants and animals to survival, but large amounts caused a richness and density in the lake that changes the eco system to a extent that blue/green algae is running wild, but when they die, they released neuro toxins into the water, that attacks the central nervous system, killing off the brains neurons, 2yrs into the investigation they finally find the cause, or did they? But there is a twist, at a scientific conference elsewhere, a Lake Griffin scientist talked to another scientist, who is investigating a spate of salmons and trouts dying, they found the symptoms very similar to the alligators. They found the baby salmons (fry) were just healthy and then just eventually died, they lose equilibrium, roll over and fall to the bottom of the tanks they were kept in whilst being studied. They checked the brain, and found very the same thing. So over a course of 6yrs, trying to find out what is causing this, instead of looking for something that is there as a cause to this, they looked for something that is not there, could the de-generation of the brain be caused by the animal lacking an essential substance, so they experimented, and applied a variety of essential substances to the fish, and one particular substance 'thiamine', had a profound impact, they found when thiamine eventually gets into the baby fishe's bodies, these once close to death fish, were getting healthy again and would spring back to life, the results were miraculous!. So it was just a simple lack of thiamine, or commonly known as Vitamin B1, this vitamin feeds the cell regeneration, controls movement, cell reproduction, otherwise the body starts to shut down. In a healthy body, cells die and regenerate, but the brain cells are much harder to generate and without thiamine, the body lacks the energy to replace them. So while everybody was thinking the alligators were originally dying because of pollution or some disease, instead could it be just be a dietary inefficiency of vitamin B?, so they go back to check the bodies, and in need thats what they found a lack thiamine, but how could these animals in their wild environment, eating their natural diet have this vitamin deficiency?, it does not make evolutionary, or ecological sense. The answer to this made the scientists of Lake Griffin view the lake in a completely different way forever... Over 7 months, alligators were captured and all had their stomaches pumped, what they found test after test was one particular species, a fish called 'Gizzard Shad', these fish have high levels of Thiaminase which is a enzyme, this in turns destroys Thiamine. So they tested this theory, over the next 12 months alligators on a farm were fed Shad 3 times a week. Slowly they changed, became lethargic, the back legs paralyzed, hardy moved...the living dead, zombies. But alligators have always eaten Shad, so why the deadly effects now?, Gizzard Shad levels have increased greater, and other species have decreased, so the bio-diversity is less, so the alligators are not getting their vitamin pill in forms of their other animals, such as Bass and Bluegill fish. So the authorities took drastic steps, they extracted the Shad from all 9,000 acres of Lake Griffin, once the water quality started improving, the alligators stopped dying. It took 6yrs of intensive investigation by a team of scientists from 13 different agencies to arrive at this solution, but it was not only the Shad to blame, firstly people and the muck farms colonized the region, bit by bit the chemical reactions seeped into the lake, causing a chain reaction, this paved the way for a toxic alien invader, an aglo bloom that almost suffocated the lake, killed all the plants, and huge numbers of fish died, but the Gizzard Shad found this rancid conditions ideal, they ran amok in the lake - a chain of events triggered by people, agriculture, development, ended in the death of hundreds of alligators and a demise of a lake. There you go. The end. .