Zombie Tongue


This is about Zombies, in real life.

World War Z released recently, to rather positive reviews. I could not watch it. Not like it was too intense or something, but like I could not go to the theatre to see it. World War Z is based on a novel by Max Brooks, who also wrote ‘The Zombie Survival Guide’, the name of which should incline at least some of you to conclude, inspired the movie ‘Zombieland’. It did not. But Zombieland I did watch, and liked. While at it, I would also like to mention ‘Shaun of the Dead’, which is a great zombie movie, the enjoyment of which, for me, was slightly hampered by, something I think should have a separate term for, but till I am aware of it, I like to call, retrodam. I had seen ‘Hot Fuzz’ first, and then Shaun of the Dead felt, still quite enjoyable though, not that epic. But it was totally due to the cinematic pattern, not the Zombie theme. I also saw, our Indian attempt, ‘Go Goa Gone’ which promised so much but turned out to be, as a friend said, a movie whose all the good parts were already covered in its trailer. Anyway, so World War Z released recently, and I was reading its reviews and stumbled on a news item about some real Zombies which roam the animal kingdom. And one of them blew my mind.

So there is a something called ‘Cymothoa exigua’, which is a parasite and a type of arthropod. Arthropods are basically invertebrates with an external skeleton. Crabs, lobsters, shrimps etcetera are some of the arthropods.  It looks not very different from the regular insects really. I don’t know how many of you drew a leech in your biology class, but it looks similar to what we (I) managed to draw, just a little more animated and not that long. Just Google it. Female Cymothoa exigua are the longer ones and reach a size of around an inch and a width of half an inch.  These guys prey on poor little fish. These little buggers enter fish through its gills, attach themselves to the base of fish’s tongue and help themselves with some fish tongue blood till the tongue is dead due to lack of blood. The dead tongue then falls off. This parasite, then attaches itself to the muscles of the remains of the tongue and start acting like a tongue itself!!! The most wonderful part about this whole project is that the fish actually starts using the parasite as its regular tongue; the poor thing doesn’t even know the difference. God damn. The parasite then shifts its diet from blood to some yummy fish mucus. Easy. Both the host fish and the parasite go on to lead their normal lives, together.

Some guys who bought such a host fish from a supermarket with the bug inside, sued the supermarket for having gotten more than they paid for, but the court said ‘Overruled’ because, it seems, they pose no danger to humans and are actually eaten by some.

Here is a picture. I did not want to spoil your fun by posting it here. DO see it.

And now if all you got from this story, is the question that how this Crustacean Fish thing is similar to the types of Zombies you see in movies, and not really appreciate the awesomeness of this whole phenomenon…..You got some real life juice deficiency my friend.


One thought on “Zombie Tongue

  1. Dear Dost I wish you to read more on this in your incredible narration, to add few, I am providing you data of real zombie parasite i.e. “Leocochloridium Paradoxum” the brain hacking parasite of snails.
    second favorite is “Guinea worm” makda thread worm found in humans. How one feel to extract a living thread from own body that too living one, it reminds me of the movie “Ruins”.

    As usual, waiting for next article, and “BOSS” (Boy of Sainik School) waiting for article on “The Glorious Past” too.

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