Tongue Eating Louse Research Paper

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Rough Draft
Gavin Gomez
Marine Bio
4/10/17 When we think of parasites our first thoughts might be about the many sci-fi concepts we see in movies, such as aliens taking over human bodies to take over the world. But in reality there are many parasites out in the world today. One of the most interesting ones that might not be so well known is the Tongue Eating Louse (Cymothoa exigua). The Tongue Eating Louse is an aquatic isopod. They will find it’s way into a fish’s mouth through the gills, suck the blood of the tongue until it wastes away, then attach themselves to the leftover tongue muscles and act as the fish’s new tongue. They are the only parasite known to replace an entire organ with it’s own body. Having your tongue eaten and
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The female louse will generally have 200 up to 1600 eggs. Mostly ranging between 300 and 600 depending on the size of the host and mother. The eggs are an oval shape, and are centrolecithal which means that there is a yolk center which is the vitelline membrane. The eggs also contain a chorion membrane which acts as a placenta inside the egg. Once the eggs have hatched, what’s left of the chorion membranes are released through the gills of the host. Basically, all the placenta waste from hundreds of eggs will flow out through the host’s gills. That has to be fun for the host. In the juvenile stage the young lice will have large eyes, spiny appendages, will have fine bristles on most appendages to aid in swimming. After the new offspring leave the original host they will search for and attach to any convenient fish for short periods of time. Because the juveniles only temporarily attach to a host they can be referred to as facultative parasites, which is an organism that may rely on parasitism but does not depend on it to complete its lifecycle. Also because these juveniles will choose just about any fish they can find, their temporary host might not be enough to complete their cycle. Either because of the size of the host or it’s susceptibility to predators. As the juvenile matures it will eventually look for a more acceptable permanent host fish in order to complete its life cycle and eventually reproduce. After the developed louse attaches to its permanent host and transitions into a functional male, the natatory setae which were used by the juvenile to swim, are lost. This is part of its transition to live in its new permanent
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