Do You See the Parasitic Isopod, aka Tongue-Eating Louse in this Pic?
This is the stuff of nightmares, folks. I can't lie, my life would have all-around been better if I never knew this thing existed. Bad news for my dreams though, it definitely exists and it's right here in Texas.
Texas Parks and Wildlife, at the Galveston Island Park recently shared a picture of a fish that has a parasitic isopod where it's tongue used to be. Are you still reading? I understand if you've moved on. Oh, you're still here. Okay.
So this parasite detaches a fish's, in this case an Atlantic Croaker, tongue and for all intents and purposes becomes it's host's tongue. From Wikipedia: "The parasite severs the blood vessels in the fish's tongue, causing the tongue to fall off. It then attaches itself to the remaining stub of the tongue and becomes the fish's new tongue." Then, according to the Texas Parks Wildlife post, it feeds on the fish's mucus.
Now if you're still reading you're about to be rewarded, here comes the good news, the isopod, which is a crustacean, won't kill the fish or even harm humans.
MARTIAN SPOTTED AT GALVESTON ISLAND STATE PARK .Ok, so not really… but this is still pretty spooky! Inside this Atlantic Croaker’s mouth is a parasitic isopod called a tongue-eating louse. This parasite detaches the fish’s tongue, attaches itself to the fish’s mouth, and becomes its tongue. The parasite then feeds on the fish’s mucus. It also happens to be the only known case where a parasite functionally replaces a host’s organ. It does not kill the fish or affect humans.