Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The Alien Lives of Parasites:

Cymothoa exigua, a Crustacean, is the only known parasite that effectively replaces a body part. It makes its home in the mouth of a fish, where it feeds on blood until the tongue withers and dies. Attaching its body to the remaining stub, the parasite can now be manipulated by the fish as a functional new tongue.

hat tip: wtf_nature


Jen Jordan said...

An icky and happy creature! I like it.

John M. said...

Cute little booger, isn't she? Can't say as much for the host.

Having a living tongue might be kinda cool... for a short while, anyway. Getting there would suck, though.

todd said...

Wow. . .that's. . .I'm speechless.

Any idea how long the fish can live with that thing in its mouth?

I also wonder if it drains the fish's blood to such a degree that eventually the fish dies.

John M. said...

Hi Todd,

I'm not certain. All I know is what I read on the site. I mean to look into it a little bit more, but I haven't yet.

Pretty gnarly, indeed. I will say that the fish in the photo doesn't look so healthy for the relationship.

Nature never ceases to blow my mind.