Meet the Cymothoa exigua.
Some people call them tongue-eating louses, but that feels a little pejorative to me.
These lil’ cuties belong to a family of creatures called parasitic crustaceans:
They’re actually related to these guys, who you’ve maybe seen before:
(They’re called isopods, btw, and I guess they’re pretty into Doritos?)
Kinda adorable, in a weird way, right?
The Cymothoa exigua has sort of an interesting existence.
You see, they crawl in through a fish’s gills…
…work their way to the fish’s mouth…
…EAT THE FISH’S TONGUE OUT OF ITS MOUTH…
…ATTACH THEMSELVES TO THE TINY NUB LEFT OVER…
…AND BECOME THE FISH’S NEW TONGUE!
THESE LITTLE DARLINGS ARE ALL TERRIFYING LITTLE TONGUE-BECOMERS!
Don’t worry, though, they’re not harmful to humans… YET!
Except, they apparently can bite, so be careful if you ever see one.
Which you may, because they do sometimes show up in the mouths of fish at supermarkets.
Anyways, now you know they’re a thing! Also, you’re probably pretty aware of how your tongue feels in your mouth now, right? Neat!