Friday, January 29, 2010
Cymothoa exigua: tongue zombie.
I just recently learned about this parasitic crustacean called Cymothoa exigua that latches onto a fish tongue, specifically a spotted rose snapper's tongue, sucks blood out of the tongue until it atrophies and falls off, and then REPLACES the tongue with ITSELF by attaching itself onto the tongue stub that's left over.
So, Cymothoa exigua becomes the reanimated tongue. It's like a tongue zombie. After Cymothoa exigua has replaced the spotted rose snapper's tongue, it changes its diet from blood to fish mucus. Isn't this getting lovelier by the minute? The fish continues living normally, except with a zombie tongue.
Also, in the picture that I have found, so expertly shot by Dr. Nico Smit, that fishy's teeth look alarmingly human. Therefore I can't help but imagining having my own tongue replaced by this incredibly creepy (but resourceful) isopod. Yes, Cymothoa exigua is in the order Isopoda, and is thus related to the sweet and charming rolly polly pillbug, which is certainly no tongue zombie, or at least let's hope not.