Because nature is just a cruel, disturbing animal horror show that never ends and I want my alien biome to be one too.

Is it plausible for the dominant species of a certain biome to have chemically enslaved the simpler, less intelligent creatures of their environment to serve as manual labor? I'm taking inspiration from the Acacia tree of our planet Earth which does something similar to ants, creating a crippling addiction to a secreted chemical that makes them dependent on the tree and subservient to its needs, but how plausible is this as a mechanism for intelligent (but not technologically advanced) life forms to control the other animals in their environment?


3 Answers 3


For humans, the following four chemicals are why you feel happy:

  • endorphin
  • oxytocin
  • serotonin
  • dopamine

Literally without all four you can't feel happy. Somewhat similarly, the following chemical makes you feel bad, in a panic-survival sort of way:

  • cortisol

...If you can control injection of these chemicals in the very specific regions of the brain, and suppress (or surgically alter) the brain's ability to create these chemicals you can literally control, on a whim, if the human is happy or not.

Not only should this be fairly effective at forcing a human to do your bidding after a bit of training directly, but done long enough the human will likely have a very pavlovian response to obeying orders given to it, and will follow commands happily even without the artificial injection of chemicals.

And this is with humans. Certainly simpler creatures can be enslaved similarly, as long as their brain chemistry works comparatively to our own.

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    $\begingroup$ Technically we would use the plants as drugs due to the effects :) However in a ironic twist, we would depend on those plants as we are hopelessly addicted to the effects (lol). So essentially, the plant has enslaved us XD $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2016 at 5:38

There actually are many different kinds of parasites controlling their hosts to behave in a certain way that aids the parasite.

The Ophiocordyceps is a fungus whose spores infect ants living up in trees. They let the ant climb down the tree and clench its teeth in leaves of low growing plants before they kill the host to spread the spores because the fungus can only grow and infect other ants in the wet areas close to the ground.

The Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan that proliferates in feline intestines. After defecation they infect other animals and in some, like rats, they are able to induce chemicals into the host's brain, which deactivates their natural fear of the smell of cats urine and replaces it with attraction so the rat is more likely to get eaten by another cat.

The wasp Hymenoepimecis argyraphaga lays its larvae in spiders, who then use chemicals to control the spider to spin a web as a support for the larvae's cocoon before it kills and eats the spider.

Hairworms infect crickets and use chemicals to alter the host's behaviour to jump into water and drown because the worm can only reproduce in an aquatic habitat.

There are many more examples of mind alteration in animality so yes, I'd say for the right reasons it would be absolutely plausible for one intelligent species to mind control another one (not even necessarily a less intelligent one) to serve certain purposes aiding the controller, who cannot do the work on his own, or (as we are talking about intelligent life forms) does not want to do the work on his own. The latter case is not plausible in your case, as you mentioned the controllers to not be technically advanced, so I'd assume their controlling behaviour developed evolutionarily and thus needs a proper reason.


For plants : A chemical is excreted by the flower that causes bugs to go crazy, and they spread the pollen after they are finished taking the nectar.

Also, consider looking at this species of ant, the ant gets attracted to acacias. The queen nests in the thorns, and after the workers are born, they act as the gardeners. All competitors of the plants are killed, and the ants are addicted to the dew.

Don't know about animals yet, but the same can probably be done. The animals feed from the plants, which causes them to slowly become addicted to it, and they help spread the seeds and benefit the plant.


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