TONGUE EATING PARASITE - (Cymothoa exigua)
If this isn’t a creepy animal, then we may as well close shop. Ewwwwwwwww.
- Cymothoa exigua, or the tongue-eating louse, is a parasitic crustacean of the family Cymothoidae. It tends to be 3 to 4 centimetres (1.2 to 1.6 in) long.
- This parasite enters through the gills, and then attaches itself at the base of the spotted rose snapper’s (Lutjanus guttatus) tongue.
- It extracts blood through the claws on its front, causing the tongue to atrophy from lack of blood.
- The parasite then replaces the fish’s tongue by attaching its own body to the muscles of the tongue stub.
- The fish is able to use the parasite just like a normal tongue. It appears that the parasite does not cause any other damage to the host fish.
- Once C. exigua replaces the tongue, some feed on the host’s blood and many others feed on fish mucus.
- This is the only known case of a parasite functionally replacing a host organ.
- It is currently believed that C. exigua are not harmful to humans unless picked up alive, in which case they can bite.
Fact Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymothoa_exigua
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