Science

'Vicious' Tongue-Eating Parasite Discovered in the Sea

A rare, sea-dwelling parasite that eats a fish's tongue and then takes the tongue's place in the fish was discovered off the coast of Jersey in Europe, the BBC reported.

The isopod is about 1-inch long and was first found by fishermen.

"When we emptied the fish bag out there at the bottom was this incredibly ugly looking isopod," marine researcher Paul Chambers told the BBC. "Really quite large, really quite hideous — if you turn it over it's got dozens of these really sharp, nasty claws underneath and I thought, 'That's a bit of a nasty beast.'"

Chambers said the fish doesn't experience "too much ill effect ... except it's lost its tongue."

Experts at the University of Southhampton confirmed Chambers' findings and told the BBC there have been similar sightings that date back to 1996.

Chambers said the isopod doesn't bother humans, but don't try to touch it.

"They are vicious, they will deliver a good nip," he told the BBC.

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