You might be under the impression that plants photosynthesize—using energy from the sun to turn carbon dioxide and water into delicious and nutritious sugar—and you’re mostly right. Even carnivorous plants like the Venus flytrap practice this process to some extent (though nutrient-poor environments and inefficiency often lead them to supplement their diets with something a little bloodier). But not all flora are capable of feeding off of the sun. Some long ago abandoned this ability, having evolved other ways of gathering nutrients.
When I ask Sara Weinstein about her favorite parasite, she laughs, and has a quick answer. “I think the flies that parasitize frogs are really interesting,” she says.
Since it first came on the market in 1998, Viagra has been found to address more conditions than just erectile dysfunction—it treats hypertension, altitude sickness, and prostate cancer. Now a team of European researchers has found that everyone’s favorite little blue pill can prevent malaria because of the way an enzyme affects red blood cells, according to a study published in PLOS Pathogens.
Global events such as climate change and an international trade have caused a number of dangerous parasites to emerge in countries where they haven’t been found before. The parasites, which can invade and damage vital body organs such as the brain, range from one-celled organisms to relatively large tape worms. Here are five that, though still thankfully rare, have made an appearance in new places.