Make your own zombie! (using common household ocean creatures)

Miriam invited me to guestblog while she is creeping along the stormy coast of California. So here is my first foray into blogospace, a handy do-it-yourself guide for how to turn your enemies into the walking dead.

VOODOO ZOMBI (makes 1)

  • 1 mortal enemy
  • 1 puffer fish liver
  • gloves, paint brush
  • easy-to-open coffin

Take puffer fish. Wearing gloves, extract liver. With paintbrush, apply liver liberally to enemy. Let sit for a few seconds. Place paralyzed enemy in coffin. Bury. In 12-48 hours, zombified enemy should emerge. If not, don’t get discouraged, just use a little less liver next time.

The secret ingredient in this recepie is tetrodotoxin (TTX to those in the know). The poison is named for the fish in the order Tetraodontiformes (puffers and relatives) where it was first discovered, although it is also made by many other kinds of fish (including lionfish), bacteria, the blue-ring octopus, rough-skinned newts, chaetognaths (yay!), and various other nasty denizens of the damp. For any rabid sushi-eaters out there, this is the substance responsible for Fugu poisoning, which nearly killed Homer Simpson in season 2.

From here on in, I am relying on the PhD thesis of Harvard/National Geographic Anthropologist, Wade Davis. Unlike most PhD theses, this one was made into a truly awful horror movie with Bill Pulman called “The Serpent and the Rainbow“. In traditional society on the island of Hispañola, if enough people hate somene, they can pool their money to pay a medicine man (bokor) to perform a curse on the doorstep of his house. The system was priced so that no one person could pay to have this done to any other one person, it had to be group hatred. Part of this aforementioned ceremony involves painting the threshold with the liver of a pufferfish. The next morning, when the public enemy steps outside in his bare feet, TTX enters his body, opening fast-gated Na+ channels and paralyzing his muscles. He falls over apparently dead (the diaphragm and heart muscles and still moving, but just barely if the bokor got the dosage right) and he is buried. A few hours to a few days later, the poison wears off and he digs his way out of his own grave. Ha ha! What fun!

But here’s the real kicker, your enemy won’t have breathed very much in the last few days and have probably suffered severe brain damage. Henceforth, your enemy is good for nothing but harvesting sugar on the other side of the island. Such damaged people are called “zombi”s. Hence the pale skin, drooling, groaning icon of horror movies.

Now if you don’t quite give him enough poison, that’s ok too. You just keep him in a permanently tripped-out hallucinogenic state by giving him jimson weed tea (aka “Poor-man’s speed”) every morning. (Note to everyone on Facebook who keeps sending me Jimson Weed for my ‘lil green patch: I’m on to you!) Plants in the Datura genus, like jimson weed, contain atropine, a potent hallucinogen. (They also contain scopolamine, which is put on ear patches for the seasick.) Wade Davis’ thesis revolves around a man named Clairvius Narcisse, who was underdosed with TTX, and therefore needed to be fed jimson weed routinely to remain zombified. When his bokor died unexpectedly, he recovered his memory and mental capacity, and hence was able to share the secrets of the zombification process.

So there you go. Following these easy steps, you can soon have your very own undead horde crawling all over the yard! Remember, only do this to people who really deserve it. And while doing this, it helps to declare in a loud voice “Mwahah! Those fools at the academy!” Enjoy kids.


17 Responses to Make your own zombie! (using common household ocean creatures)

  1. Mike says:

    Hey, I actually thought The Serpent and the Rainbow was a good movie!

  2. Great post!

    But a dangerous game you’re suggesting to play.

    Check out my Zombie Research Society blog at:

    Hope you like it, and keep up the good work!


  3. Lavina says:

    Many thanks for this useful household hint. Mollie Throgmorten’s vivacity as a nonzombie will be history by Tuesday! HAHAHAH. Continuing in the helpful hints department, I have been frustrated in my attempts to determine the etymology of chaetnognaths. I gather that it has something to do with fast-moving spotted cats wearing deceptive garments, but I am stymied by the “aths” suffix. I realize that cats are not usual in marine biology but there is a possible connection if the togn-ath is any relation to the plant called ath-wart that afflicts the oars on small boats?
    Curious minds want to know…

  4. John68 says:

    Call it my plan to help out the economy. ,

  5. chewbops says:

    Dat would be awesome if a zombie apocalypse really happened!
    I hope it does!

  6. chewbops says:

    I hope a zombie apocalypse really does happen! That would be awesome!

  7. […] or, since this is a science blog and we need to explain this scientifically, through the effects of tetrodotoxin. In any case, the process incurs some permanent brain […]

  8. dart news says:

    I could have ever ununderstood why somebody has dealt so modifierly with this outcome. Now give up to me full go. Genuinely interesting your thesis. Although my English is not so skillful, your thread I can understand. Hold over up the Light.

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