….There’s A Parasite That Can Rip Your Tongue Off (If you’re a fish)

Cymothoa exigua. When you read this seemingly random train wreck of Latin suffixes and scientific jargon, what comes to mind? A scientific name for a newly described species of plant? A mushroom, maybe? If you happened to have the luck to guess “pill bug”, you’re halfway there.

The horror, the horror! (Wikipedia)
Technically, this little guy is a kind of isopod, a family of crustacean of which pill bugs are a part. He doesn’t look like he can do any serious damage. He’s so tiny! And he’s pale! And he’s got those itty-bitty paw-like things! But if you happen to be a fish swimming in the Gulf of California, and if you just happened to have a really bad day, these little buggers will latch onto you and makeyour day a whole lot worse. 
Because this guy will burrow through your gills (you’re a fish, remember?), destroy your tongue, make himself at home in your mouth, and sit there as your replacement tongue. Oh, and, by the way, those “paws” are actually part of its diabolical arsenal of tongue-eating—those are the claws that it uses to drain the fish’s tongue of its blood supply. Once the tongue has died from lack of blood, the little bugger just moves right in and gets cozy. Not so cute and cuddly, now is it?
Today I learned that: I will never go swimming in the ocean ever again.

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