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Cymothoa exigua --- The most horrifying parasite





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Uploaded on May 17, 2009

I took this video at the beach in Freeport, Texas, in 2009. The fish we caught had this creature wiggling around it its mouth. At first, I thought it was the fish's tongue, but I looked it up when I got home because it was just so weird.

In fact, it is not a FISH TONGUE but a Cymothoa exigua, a small parasitic crustacean. This creature enters through the fish's gills, latches on to the base of the tongue, and slowly feeds by sucking the host's blood until the tongue atrophies and falls off. The parasite then replaces the fish's tongue by attaching its own body to the muscles of the tongue stub. This is the only case in nature where a parasite replaces a host organ.


A lot of you are distressed because I killed the parasite toward the end of the video. I did this because I wanted to see if it was filled with roe-like eggs, as a previous Cymothoa had been. Unfortunately, it was just filled with dark, inky crap. However I won't apologize for killing it, because it was gross and deserved to die.


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