Saturday, February 25, 2017

ZooWeird 85

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Tongue-eating louse: a strange white parasitic isopod of the Cymothoidae family, commonly found off the coast of California. The parasite is best known for replacing the host’s tongue with itself. The parasite begins its life cycle by first entering the victim’s body through the gills. Females attach themselves to the tongue while males attach on the branchial arch (gill arches) beneath and behind the female. Once established, the parasite, using its front claws, immediately starts to feed on the blood of the tongue, which gradually atrophies. Slowly but steadily the parasite gets bigger and bigger. Eventually, it replaces the fish’s tongue by attaching itself to the muscles of the tongue stub. It appears that the parasite does not cause any other damage to the host fish. Actually, the host continues to use the parasitic “tongue” just like its old one, to grind food against the tiny teeth on the roof of the mouth. The tongue-eating louse is currently the only known parasite to replace a host’s organ in its entirety with itself. (All animal info from

Of course a creature that will eat
Your tongue is just a louse.
It is no Donald Duck, you know—
No friendly Mickey Mouse.

But there in Cal-i-for-ni-a
Is where they eat those tongues—
And you can't screampathetic, yo
Because you have no lungs.

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