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Scientific Name Cymothoa exigua
Comments The tongue-eating isopod causes degeneration of the tongue of its host fish, the rose snapper, Lutjanus guttatus, and it then attaches to the remaining tongue stub and floor of the fish's mouth by hook-like pereopods. In this position the isopod superficially resembles its host's missing tongue. Brusca & Gilligan (1983) hypothesize that these isopods serve as a mechanical replacement for the fish's tongue and represent the first known case in animals of functional replacement of a host structure by a parasite. This relationship is so-far known only from the Gulf of California.
Reference Alex Kerstitch. 1989. Sea of Cortez Marine Invertebrates. Sea Challengers, Monteray, California.
Brusca, R. C. and M. R. Gilligan. 1983. Tongue replacement in a fish by a parasitic Isopod. Copeia. 1983(3):813-816.
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Copyright © 1989 Matthew Gilligan, Savannah State College, Savannah, GA
Image Use restricted
Attached to Group Isopoda: view page image collection
Title isopod2.gif
Image Type Photograph
Image Content Specimen(s)
Subject Morphology, Neurobiology
ALT Text Tongue-eating isopod
ID 5225
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