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Cymothoa exigua

Your Worst Nightmare


on 13 December 2013

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Transcript of Cymothoa exigua

Cymothoa exigua: your worst nightmare
by Justin and Chantal
Reproduction/Life Cycle
Damage to Fish Host
Influence on Humans
Summary Slide
"Tongue-eating Louse"
Carboniferous Period
segemented body (7)
Convex curvature (twisted to one side)
Palps are small
Females 2x bigger than males
Posterior legs are prehensile
Juvenile form is free-swimming
47 species
Pacific Ocean from north of Ecuador to south of California
Water as shallow as 2 meters, to water as deep as 60 meters
Freshwater and Marine
Costa Rica (Caribbean Sea)
Java (Indian Ocean)
Google Maps
Juvenile period spent searching for suitable host
Variety of hosts, most common: Red Snapper
Several parasites infiltrate gills of host
Largest parasite matures into female, displaces to buccal region
Female uses palps to access blood of tongue
Prehensile legs latch to remaining tongue muscle
Parasite will remain with host until death
Reproduction/Life Cycle
Ectosymbiont (after tongue atrophies, relationship mutual)
Depends on host to complete life cycle
Biphasic - Natatory male juveniles
Males feed on gill blood supply
Largest morphs into female (emit hormones/pheremones)
Latches onto tongue, tongue replacement
Male attempts copulation after molting
Hundreds of eggs per brood
Damage to Fish Host
Lacerations/cuts to buccal cavity
Open wound can be port for pathogens
Too many cuts can cause anemia
Males may also feed on gill tissue
Possible respiratory issues with large infestation in gills
Influence on Humans
Can bite if threatened
Parasitizes commercially important fish (Red Snapper), reduces market value
Red Snappers shipped worldwide
Supermarket lawsuit
Google Maps
Summary (and Questions)
1. Cymothoa exigua is an ectoparasite that parasitizes many fish species (Red Snapper is host of choice)
2. Males feed on gill blood supply, females feed on tongue blood supply
3. Convex shape mimics tongue for replacement after atrophy
4. Stay with host until death of either organism
5. Primarily located in North Pacific Ocean
Full transcript