A fish caught recently off Texas was jokingly described as a “Martian,” in large part because of an invasive parasite that appeared inside its mouth.
“OK, so not really [a Martian], but this is still pretty spooky,” Galveston Island State Park stated on Facebook.
The fish is an Atlantic croaker, whose mouth had been occupied by a tongue-eating louse.
According to the park, the louse enters a fish’s mouth through its gills, severs the tongue and serves as a functioning tongue while feeding on mucous.
“It also happens to be the only known case where a parasite functionally replaces a host’s organ,” the park added.
If these aren’t fun or savory facts, there is good news regarding the tongue-eating louse: “It does not kill the fish or affect humans.”
–Image courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife