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11 emerging scientific fields that everyone should know about
March 2, 2013, 10:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

11 emerging scientific fields that everyone should know about: There was a time when science could be broken down into neat-and-tidy disciplines — straightforward things like biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. But as science advances, these fields are becoming increasingly specialized and interdisciplinary, leading to entirely new avenues of inquiry. Here are 11 emerging scientific fields you should know about.

1. Neuroparasitology

If you know about Toxoplasma gondii — the cat-spawned parasite that alters both rodent and human behavior — then you know about the work of neuroparasitologists. The fact that these eerie parasites now have their very own scientific discipline devoted to them shows just how prevalent they are in nature.

These parasites typically alter host behavior as a part of their reproductive strategy (often by being consumed and excreted by a third party). A good example is Euhaplorchis californiensis, which causes fish to shimmy and jump so wading birds will grab and eat them. Hairworms, which live inside grasshoppers, eventually need to leave their hosts to continue their life cycle. Rather than leave peacefully, however, they release a cocktail of chemicals that makes the grasshoppers commit suicide by leaping into water. The hairworms then swim away from their drowning hosts.

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