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Profitable Wonders, the Parasitical Life

Regulars | By James Le Fanu | July 2017

The parasite, 'One who eats at the table of another'

The parasite, ‘One who eats at the table of another’, is a lowly creature as, with all its bodily needs catered for, it requires none of the specialised organs of those that must make their own way in the world. And the lowliest of all, or so it would seem, are the flukes and nematodes that live contentedly, well provisioned for, within the lubricious intestines of their generous hosts. They thus have no need for a brain or nervous system, nor – living perpetually in the dark – sight or hearing or the senses of touch or taste. Absorbing nutrients directly through their outer walls, they can do without a digestive tract. Firmly attached to the lining of the gut, they require neither limbs nor muscles. And yet, in one of those deeply perplexing paradoxes of the natural world, the life cycle of these primitive decerebrate, insensate, inert, helminthic worms...

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