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Cymothoa exigua

From hinterlands.cc, by way of boing boing, comes word of a disturbingly parasitic sea creature:

2004-03-22-01.gif

Tongue-eating isopod, Cymothoa exigua

This isopod causes degeneration of the tongue of its host fish the rose snapper, Lutjanus guttatus, and it then attaches to the remaining tongue stub and floor of the fish's mouth by hook-like pereopods. In this position the isopod superficially resembles its host's missing tongue. Brusca & Gilligan (1983) hypothesize that these isopods serve as a mechanical replacement for the fish's tongue and represent the first known case in animals of functional replacement of a host structure by a parasite. This relationship is so-far known only from the Gulf of California.

As someone wrote:

I wonder if a fish can dream and if so, then I bet a fish has nightmares. And if a fish has nightmares, then he probably has them about that tongue parasite.
I'm not even a fish, and I might just end up having nightmares about that tongue parasite.

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