Isopod Replaces Fish's Tongue

Sep 14, 2009 by Lin Edwards weblog
Isopod Replaces Fish's Tongue
The isopod was found living inside a weaver fish. Image: BBC

(PhysOrg.com) -- An isopod that replaces a fish's tongue has been discovered for the first time in the Channel Islands in Europe. The marine isopod, described by its finder as hideous and vicious, is a rare find.

The one-inch long isopod was found in a weaver fish's mouth by fishermen off the uninhabited Minquiers Islets (under the jurisdiction of Jersey, which is off the coast of Normandy, France). Marine isopods are crustaceans related to shrimps and , and a number of species in the order Isopoda are parasitic. The Jersey specimen resembles a terrestrial .

Among the fishermen was Paul Chambers, a marine scientist from the Soci?t? Jersiaise, who struggled to identify the specimen for several weeks before identifying the creature from a Victorian journal. Scientists from the University of Southampton confirmed the identification.

Chambers said he was surprised to find the isopod outside of the , but the University of Southampton told the BBC that several had been sighted in 1996 off the coast of Cornwall. A similar isopod is also known to parasitize the spotted rose snapper off the coast of California.

The isopod, described by Chambers as "hideous" and quite large, burrows into its fish host and takes up position on the fish's tongue, where it lives on the host's blood. As the tongue is starved of blood it atrophies and is gradually replaced by the isopod. The fish is able to survive the experience with no apparent harm other than the loss of its to the parasite.

Isopods are not harmful to humans, although they have dozens of sharp claws on their underside, and Chambers said they can be quite vicious and are capable of giving a nasty nip if you pick them up.

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

Explore further: Nearly 50 years of lemur data now available online (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Invasive Parasite Spreading Among West Coast Estuaries

Feb 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A parasitic isopod that scientists identified five years ago has all but decimated mud shrimp populations in coastal estuaries ranging from British Columbia to northern California - with the ...

Iceberg crashes into Drygalski Ice Tongue

Apr 08, 2006

An iceberg, C-16, rammed into the Drygalski Ice Tongue, a large sheet of glacial ice in Antarctica, breaking off a huge block and forming a new iceberg.

New species of snapper discovered in Brazil

Mar 13, 2007

A popular game fish mistaken by scientists for a dog snapper is actually a new species discovered among the reefs of the Abrolhos region of the South Atlantic Ocean.

Woman wins lawsuit over sponge

Oct 05, 2007

A Florida jury has awarded more than $2.4 million to a woman whose doctor left a foot-long sponge in her pelvis after she gave birth.

Recommended for you

Smarter than a first-grader?

8 hours ago

In Aesop's fable about the crow and the pitcher, a thirsty bird happens upon a vessel of water, but when he tries to drink from it, he finds the water level out of his reach. Not strong enough to knock over ...

How honey bees stay cool

20 hours ago

Honey bees, especially the young, are highly sensitive to temperature and to protect developing bees, adults work together to maintain temperatures within a narrow range. Recently published research led by ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

earls
2.8 / 5 (4) Sep 14, 2009
Those that mind if these go extinct should replace their tongues.
Sean_W
Sep 14, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Royale
Sep 14, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
earls
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2009
thales
Sep 15, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
otto1923
Sep 15, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Ricochet
Sep 15, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
thales
Sep 15, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Illure
not rated yet Sep 15, 2009
This isopod is similar to: http://en.wikiped...a_exigua
otto1923
Sep 15, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
thales
Sep 15, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.