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.

13 comments:

  1. The little tongue thief has a leering smile on his face!

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    1. Think that's his hind end smiling at us ;)

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  2. Oh jesus...thought I'd be commenting on a "maggots in my underwear" post but had to stop here first. (caroline)

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  3. Excellent post and writing style. Bookmarked.

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  4. Really freaky! It's also excreting into the fish's mouth - one source I came across claims directly into the blood supply.

    Fascinating pillbug facts. Woodlice were one of my earliest bug obsessions. *reminisces*

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  5. yes fishes teeth are similar to ours that in itself is freaky enuf... but this "alien is a real freak out!

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  6. If you think this is gross, it's the basis of the movie "The Bay". I probably don't have to tell you where the isopods end up.

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  7. there was a movie called The Bay about this fish, it was nasty

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  8. Is it safe to swim anymore? I mean imagine you wake up one day go to the bathroom and instead of your we we there is well...

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    1. Hmnnn... if we apply that to a female we could call the movie
      "The Box" LOL

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  9. Fun! Fun! Fun! http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/journalism/NSmeme%201999.htm

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