Research, Technology

Who are language woodlice and are they dangerous to people?

In the southeastern part of the US state of Texas, there is the city of Galveston, which is a seaside resort. Recently, one of the local workers caught a fish, in whose mouth an unpleasant surprise was found - tongue wood licewhich attaches to the tongue of aquatic creatures andfeeds on their blood. In photographs, as in life, this phenomenon looks extremely terrifying, like a frame from a horror movie. Just try to imagine that you are looking into the mouth of a caught fish, and from there a pair of round eyes is looking at you, just awful! Language lice are very small and poorly understood creatures, but scientists can still tell a lot of interesting things about them. Tiny creatures give fish a lot of trouble and can live in their bodies for many years.

Tongue wood lice inside the fish

Who are tongue wood lice?

The terrifying creatures were told inscientific publication Science Alert. The fish caught in Texas turned out to be the Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), which can grow up to 20 centimeters and weigh up to 2 kilograms. These fish can live up to 8 years and make noise from time to time with their swim bladder. In his mouth, a tongue wood louse was found - this is the name of a crustacean parasite that enters the mouth of a fish through the gills and attaches to his tongue for subsequent suction of blood. To do this, the tiny creature uses claws on the front of its body. Ultimately, the tongue of the fish dries up and falls off, and the parasite attaches to the muscles of the tongue and completely replaces it.

Woodlice inside the Atlantic slab

The most interesting thing is that fish usually usea parasite like an ordinary language. Some scientists believe that the crustacean does no harm to its "host". However, the results of a 2013 study showed that in some cases the parasite changes the dietary habits of fish and causes its growth to slow down. This is most likely due to the size that initially tiny creatures can reach. At first, their length is 8 millimeters, but over time they lengthen up to 3-4 centimeters. Because of this, some fish have a clogged mouth and they cannot get enough oxygen from the water for healthy development. Also, slow growth of fish may be due to the fact that the parasite is consuming too many nutrients.

Tongue wood lice extracted from fish

Reproduction of parasites inside the fish

Lingual wood lice reproduce right in the mouth of the fish.Females lay their eggs in a special sac in their belly. After hatching, the babies of the parasite start swimming to find their prey. They also enter fish through the gills along with water and are attached to their tongue. However, not all lingual wood lice have the same life cycle. There are several species of these creatures in the world, and only representatives of the Cymothoa exigua species have the ability to completely replace the language of their owner.

Trailer of the movie "The Bay"

If you are interested in science and technology news, subscribe to our channel in Yandex.Zen. There you will find articles that have not been published on the site!

As you can see, some parasites may not causespecial harm to their owners. And some of them may even give them youth and a carefree life. Recently I talked about how some ants bring parasitic food into their home, after which they gain something like "eternal youth." But for a carefree life, they, in the end, still pay with their lives. If interested, read this material.