Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cymothoa exigua, the Tongue-eating Louse

Looking like a cross between Nemo and the Xenomorph from Alien, the Tongue-eating Louse smiles out from a clownfish.

The young, asexual, Cymothoa exigua enters through a fish's gills and latches onto the tongue, draining it of blood until the tongue atrophies. C. exigua then sheds some of its limbs and becomes a female, staying to live inside the fish's mouth and acting as a replacement tongue. Eventually another young c. exigua will enter the gills and become male. C. exigua has only been found in an individual fish as a single female or a mating couple, never as a group or same sex couple.

Here's a video of one being removed from a fish... and a clip of Stephen Colbert freaking out over it.

Video and other info at:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2009/12/08/lets-haunt-their-dreams-forever

I first heard about it on Cracked.com:
http://www.cracked.com/article_17199_the-7-most-horrifying-parasites-planet.html

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