Who will save the world from zombie attack?

Forensic entomologists, of course.

These are the strong-stomached folks who study the arthropod fauna that colonizes dead flesh. Their knowledge of insect taxonomy, ecology, and development can be used to provide estimates of the time and conditions of death. Or zombification, in the present case.

Hypothetically, suppose a zombie shuffles along to my house at horrifying rate of 1 km/hr.

On arrival, I note that the zombie is infested with final instar larvae of the blow fly Phormia regina. Under our current warm summer weather conditions, it takes at least 5 days for the maggots to reach that developmental stage since momma fly visited the zombie. So we can presume that the zombie has been decomposing for at least that long.

Let's see. 5 days is 120 hours. Shuffling at 1km/hour would put the origin of that zombie no further than 120 kilometers away.

If we collect maggots and crunch the numbers from enough zombies, we should be able to triangulate in on the location of the zombie epicenter. The zombie control forces will then be able to deploy where they will be most effective.

And as usual, entomologists will have saved civilization.


On a more personal note, though, I guess I should have run instead of doing the math.

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...or at least walked briskly.

By Peter Coffey (not verified) on 01 Jul 2010 #permalink

So, assuming that there is an essentially unlimited supply of blowflies to lay eggs, how long will it be before the larvae destroy so much tissue that the zombies simply fall apart, therefore losing the ability to move at all? This is pretty key to figuring out just how long the Zombie Apocalypse is going to last.

Since you've apparently already been zombified yourself (as your current profile pic would suggest), you've got plenty of time to do the math, AND re-run the numbers.

But he needs more braaaaaiiiiins to do it.

By Fox Laughing (not verified) on 01 Jul 2010 #permalink

"As a token of parting respect and esteem, Violet made a curtsey quite down to the ground, and stuck one of her few remaining Parrot-tail feathers into the back hair of the most pleasing of the Blue-Bottle-Flies...."-Edward Lear

This assumes, of course, that the insects don't become zombies themselves. Being humans, we typically think of zombie humans as one of the worst possible disasters. Perish the thought. Zombie insects, zombie bacteria, zombie fungi, these are the things we should fear. If these other creatures could indeed become 'zombified' and thus spread the zombie prion (or whatever it is), that's far more scary than anything our film and fiction industry has ever truly considered.

Entomologists already DO save the world by increasing cereal production. But even they are too late - most Americans have been braindead for decades. The zombie attack was called television.

I like that train of thought! Of course blow fly maggots can also cause mass panic capable of disrupting air travel apparently, so it's a win-lose situation... but I think the zombie prediction might just put it over the top in their favour...

In World War Z Max Brooks says that insects don't eat zombie flesh. I find it hard to believe that there's anything that insects can't eat.

By Peter Coffey (not verified) on 02 Jul 2010 #permalink

this is great if the infection started at one point but at the moment we have free roaming walkers then it would mean that the infection has spread well the location of patient 0 and is now in full swing following it back to the source could lead you to the walker's apartment, house, car, or where ever the reanimation occurred. That is "if" the blow fly had even been present at the initial reanimation. you get an "A" for the idea , but you would have a better chance making it to Mars in safely collection samples from cannibalistic beings.