Posted by: Douglas Mehling | January 25, 2008

The strange world of parasites

ant-berry-parasite.jpgThis week in my Internet browsing I discovered two fascinating parasites. The first is a parasite that targets a certain species of ants, and this parasite causes the abdomen of the ants to swell up and turn red, looking like a juicy berry. Birds who feed on bright red berries are tricked into eating the ants, and then release the eggs of the parasite into the environment through their droppings. Subsequently, the ants then consume the waste containing the eggs and the cycle starts all over. What a clever method the parasites use for propagating themselves.

The other parasite I discovered is a crustacean that transforms itself into a tongue. It lives inside the mouth of a fish called the spotted rosesnapper. The parasite sucks on the tongue which is a good source of blood, until the tongue withers and dies. The parasitic crustacean then attaches itself to the stub, and acts like a tongue for the rest of its life. Pretty bizarre, huh?

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