Oct 25, 2008

Louse Tongue

Cymothoa exigua has the dubious distinction of being one of the only parasites on the planet that actually replaces one of the host animal's organs.

Upon entering the spotted rosesnapper's mouth, the nubile sea louse attaches itself to the fish's tongue and starts feeding off the tongue's blood. As C. exiqua grows, the tongue atrophies and falls off. But the sea louse remains, firmly grasping the stump of the tongue. The fish is actually able to move and use the sea louse as if it were its own tongue, and sustains no additional harm.

From what I've read, C. exigua only latches on to the spotted rosesnapper's tongue. How does such a specific parasitism arise? Are they too good for other fish? Is there something extra fancy about spotted rosesnapper tongue?

I imagine that when spotted rosesnappers go out on dates, one of the first things they ask each other--certainly before the first kiss--is if they have a sea louse tongue. That might be a deal breaker for some.

Thanks for the photo, Jelo.

20 comments:

Nervavels said...

I never thought I'd ever say this: I could SO have done without that visual.... gah.

Mike said...

That is truly disturbing.

alex said...

i dunno why but that just makes me angry...

stupid parasites *grumbles*

Anonymous said...

Haha. ALIEN!

Leigh said...

Fish 1: Why that's just... just...

Fish 2: What's the matter? Sea louse got your tongue?

Hauntedmansion138 said...

That is the stomach burster from Alien. How weird and incredibly disturbing

SebastesMan said...

I Don't know about that particular species, but there is a tongue louse that can be found on fish in the Pacific. I know that it has been found on Ling Cod (Ophiodon olongatus ) ehre in California and as I recall, some other species.

SebastesMan said...

ooops... Ophiodon elongatus

Yvonne Navarro said...

That is SO cool! It's right out of ALIENS!

Vanessa said...

Hello!

EJCrews said...

Can anyone tell me why it appears to have human teeth?

SebastesMan said...

Can anyone tell me why it appears to have human teeth?

Well, teeth are actually modified scales. Since we have fishy ancestors, perhaps the question is "why do we appear to have fishy teeth."

Kath aka Sleepydumpling said...

Ok that thing is going to have me waking in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, I am SURE.

JEEPERS!!

Raging Wombat said...

Sea louse got your tongue?

Love it, Leigh!

obbop said...

Parasitical. Absorbing nutrients from the body.

Why do I have images of an elite class within the USA sucking wealth and power from the body of the masses of commoners laboring for their money vice skimming from the top while performing little to nothing useful as the USA elite class does?

Anonymous said...

Okay, is it me or is that sea louse actually smiling for the camera ? It actually looked kinda cute that way, tongue eating notwithstanding.

Ahmed

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david_dvdson said...

OMG That looks so nasty, and ive seen worse things out there. i mean i thought louse are for the skin and not the tongue. ewwww

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