Meet The Grossest Parasites Ever

Parasites are definitely gross, but they're often pretty ingenious, too. Take the Cymothoa exigua, for example. The female will latch onto a fish's tongue, then extract blood until the tongue atrophies and falls off. By securing itself to the stub where the tongue used to be, the parasite becomes a stand-in tongue for the fish. The much-smaller males live in the fish's gill chamber, and may become female if there isn't already one in the fish's mouth.

Parasite Got Your Tongue?

The Cymothoa exigua lives in the best place for food: a mouth.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Adult Cymothoa exigua males can become females. 00:36

  2. A female Cymothoa exigua attaches herself to the base of a fish's tongue, then extracts blood from it until the tongue withers and dies. 01:02

  3. Male Cymothoa exigua living in a fish's gill chamber might mate with the female living in the mouth. 01:34

The World's Scariest Parasites

Here are plenty of reasons you don't want to encounter a parasite -- as if you needed even one.

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Human-Loving Parasites

Meet the human body's potential tenants.

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4 Parasites That Might Live Inside You

There's a possibility you have these parasites already.

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Written by Curiosity Staff February 11, 2016