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File This Under “Blargity WHAT IS THAT!” September 11, 2009

Filed under: WTF Mate? — Chad L. @ 4:44 pm
Tags: , ,

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do an update due to work and starting school again… but today Warren Ellis brought to my attention something strange enough I had to share it.

First off, did you know fish have tongues? Honestly, I had not thought about it before, but it makes sence as many animals do.

Next, do any of you know what the thing on the right is?

That little bugger is known as Cymothoa exigua aka Tongue eating louse.

See? I was actually getting somewhere with those questions a moment ago.

From Wikipedia (as of 4.33pm on 9-11-09)-

This parasite attaches itself at the base of the spotted rose snapper’s (Lutjanus guttatus) tongue, entering the fish’s mouth through its gills. It then proceeds to extract blood through the claws on its front three pairs of legs. As the parasite grows, less and less blood reaches the tongue, and eventually the organ atrophies 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. They do not eat scraps of the fish’s food. This is the only known case of a parasite functionally replacing a host organ.

There are many species of Cymothoa, but only C. exigua is known to consume and replace its host’s tongue.

Yeah, you read that right. It replaces the host’s tongue with itself. Crazy huh?

Oh, an I might as well include the picture that started this off that Warren Ellis posted on his website:

tongue louse

[via Warren Ellis: Your AAA WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT Moment For Today, and also BBC News]