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Home / Science / CT scan detects parasite ‘tongue lice’ instead of fish tongue

CT scan detects parasite ‘tongue lice’ instead of fish tongue



CT scan detects parasite ‘tongue lice’ instead of fish tongue after sucking dry blood and mucus

  • A biologist studying a fish species found a parasite in his mouth
  • The isopod was fed juices on the tongue of the fish until it dried
  • The parasite had taken the place of the organ and was feeding on the incoming prey
  • Experts recognize female isopods that mate with males living in fish gills

Scientists studying a species of beam-cut fish made a startling discovery – a parasite had replaced its host’s tongue.

An X-ray image of the skull of a bead showed a small crust inside the mouth that was swallowing fluid in the muscular organ.

The small isopod, also called ‘fish lice’ or ‘tongue-eating lice’ paralyzes the fish’s tongue and absorbs nutrients until it dries.

The parasite eventually replaces the organ, attaching to the site and leaving only the underlying bone.

An X-ray image of the skull of a bead showed a small crust inside the mouth that was swallowing fluid from the muscular organ until

An X-ray image of the skull of a bead showed a small crust inside the mouth that was swallowing fluid from the muscular organ until

The isopod belongs to the genus Cymthoa and was discovered inside a fish drawn from Australian waters.

Kory Evans, an assistant professor in the Department of BioSciences at Rice University in Houston, Texas, discovered the little creature while performing a CT scan on a wrinkled skull.

‘Found an isopod eaten on the tongue (purple) in one of our winding scans this morning while digitizing it. These parasites merge with fish tongues and effectively become the new … terrifying language, ‘Evans shared in a tweet about the discovery.

Seeing one of these horrible parasites is very rare, but experts know he joins himself inside his host’s mouth and feeds on his tongue.

The small isopod, also called the 'fish lice' or 'tongue-eating lily' paralyzes the fish's tongue and absorbs nutrients until it dries.

The small isopod, also called the ‘fish lice’ or ‘tongue-eating lily’ paralyzes the fish’s tongue and absorbs nutrients until it dries.

It first releases anti-coagulants to prevent the blood of the fish from clotting and attaches to the organ in order to extract blood and mucus from it.

The tongue eventually dries out and the isopod replaces it – acting like the tongue of a fish acting.

“Although the isopod looks scary (in fact, it was the inspiration for the 2012 horror film The Bay), the fish has become very little fish far removed from its tongue,” Evans shared in a blog post.

The body of the isopod acts as a functional language and feeds on mucus secreted by fish. This is actually the only parasitic animal known to functionally replace one of its host organs. ‘

The tongue eventually dries out and the isopod replaces it - acting like the tongue of a fish acting.  In the picture is an example of the parasite inside the mouth of a fish

The tongue eventually dries out and the isopod replaces it – acting like the tongue of a fish acting. In the picture is an example of the parasite inside the mouth of a fish

There are 380 different known species of tongue-eating isopods, most of which usually have a specific species of fish that they invade and celebrate.

Although very little is known about the life cycle of these creatures, experts have found evidence that females may associate with male isopods living in the fish gill chamber.

Another underwater parasite called ‘vampire fish’ was discovered in a freshwater lake in Vermont, hundreds of miles away from its natural habitat in the Atlantic Ocean.

The sea urchin is described as an ‘annoying species’ by Vermont Fish & Life Wild, and they survive by parasitizing other fish, attaching to their bodies and sucking blood and other body fluids for food.

Another underwater parasite called 'vampire fish' was discovered in a freshwater lake in Vermont, hundreds of miles away from its natural habitat in the Atlantic Ocean.

Another underwater parasite called ‘vampire fish’ was discovered in a freshwater lake in Vermont, hundreds of miles away from its natural habitat in the Atlantic Ocean.

The sea urchin is described as an 'annoying species' by Vermont Fish & Wildlife, and they survive by parasitizing other fish, attaching to their bodies and sucking blood and other body fluids for food.

The sea urchin is described as an ‘annoying species’ by Vermont Fish & Wildlife, and they survive by parasitizing other fish, attaching to their bodies and sucking blood and other body fluids for food.

State officials say they have involved the most endangered population of sea rivers on Lake Champlain near the Canadian border.

Newer larval bulbs can spend up to five years in a dormant state, carved down the bottoms of sandy rivers that slowly filter small food particles to form water.

Once mature, swimming returns to the upper reaches of the Atlantic Ocean, where they spend most of their lives feeding on the blood of other fish.

In the past, sea urchins have had a devastating impact on freshwater fish populations, with one capable of killing an average of 40 pounds of fish per year.

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