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Nature sometimes reveals something that looks like it came straight out of a horror movie.

State park staff in Texas recently uncovered an image of a fish with a live parasite in its mouth in place of its tongue.


Photo posted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Facebook page for Galveston Island State Park. The image shows a fish with its mouth wide open, showing a bizarre parasite.

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According to the state, the creature is the tongue-eating louse.

“The Martian Spotted at Galveston Island State Park,” the post begins.

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It continues, “Okay, so not really… but it’s still pretty scary! Inside this Atlantic croaker’s mouth is a parasitic isopod called the tongue-eating louse. This parasite isolates the fish’s tongue. does, attaches itself to the mouth of the fish, and becomes the tongue.”

Post concludes, “This also happens to be the only known case where a parasite functionally alters a host’s organ. It does not kill fish or affect humans.”

The louse apparently feeds on fish mucus. Gross, but true.

On the Parks and Wildlife post, many commenters seemed intrigued by the photo.

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One person wrote: “I know some people say it won’t hurt you but I would never eat any fish if this thing was found inside it.”