Fish Got Your Tongue?

There is a parasite that takes the place of a fish’s tongue

There’s something fishy going on in the Gulf of California. The fish know about it, but they aren’t talking. You could literally say that something has their tongues.

Cymothoa exigua is a species of undersea louse that has adopted a peculiar way to survive. It targets the rose snapper fish and enters its body through the gills. From there, it attaches itself to the fish’s tongue and takes over. The louse cuts off the blood supply to the tongue and consumes the organ and then takes the tongue’s place.

It is the only known instance in the animal kingdom of a parasite functionally replacing an organ of its host. Although the louse targets several other fish, it is only with the rose snapper that it remains after feasting on the tongue.

Read more fun facts about oceans.

Read more fun facts about animals

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