If creepy crawlies and frightening monsters are your thing, then we’ve got a story for you. Officials at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have discovered a peculiar parasite just in time for Halloween.
The parasite doesn’t just feast on fish’s tongues—it replaces it and continues to consume the mucus coating the fish’s mouth. The creature, called either “snapper-choking isopod” or “tongue-eating louse,” looks like a pill bug, and was first spotted at Galveston Island State Park.
The discovery of the tongue-eating louse is the first case where scientists have observed a parasite taking the place of an entire organ in the host’s body. While the long-term effects of hosting the parasite inside the mouth of a fish aren’t determined yet, much to the scientist’s surprise, the parasite apparently “does not kill the fish or affect humans.”
While the presence of a parasite in the mouths of fish does raise questions and concerns about human health and safety, officials reassure us that even though the parasite seems like something only nightmares are made of, the creature doesn’t seem to do much harm to either fish or humans.
Source image: Galveston Island State Park—Texas Parks and Wildlife