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Tongue-eating parasite found inside mouth of fish at Texas state park

Park officials said this parasite detaches the fish’s tongue, attaches itself to the fish’s mouth, and becomes its tongue.
Credit: Galveston Island State Park
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department shared a spooky photo with a look inside the mouth of a fish caught at Galveston Island State Park on Oct. 19.

GALVESTON, Texas — We know it is the Halloween season but talk about creepy.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department shared a spooky photo with a look inside the mouth of a fish caught at Galveston Island State Park on Oct. 19.

Inside was a parasitic isopod called a tongue-eating louse. Park officials said this parasite detaches the fish’s tongue, attaches itself to the fish’s mouth, and becomes its tongue.

Not grossed out yet?

Park officials said the parasite then feeds on the fish’s mucus. Yuck!

They say this also happens to be the only known case where a parasite functionally replaces a host’s organ.

Fortunately, the parasite does not kill the fish or affect humans.

MARTIAN SPOTTED AT GALVESTON ISLAND STATE PARK Ok, so not really… but this is still pretty spooky! Inside this...

Posted by Galveston Island State Park - Texas Parks and Wildlife on Tuesday, October 19, 2021