ScienceThe Loom

"Let's Haunt Their Dreams Forever"

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This is good. Parasites have made it to the Colbert Report. It’s no secret that Stephen Colbert is a modern sort of Mr. Wizard (see his stuff on electromagnetism, microbes, and naming new species of spiders). Now Colbert introduces the nation, nay, the world, to a fish parasite that plays the part of the fish tongue.

I must, however, correct one thing Colbert said. This parasite has been in the news recently thanks to some awesome photographs of a recently caught infected fish. But that doesn’t mean this is the first time anybody ever saw one of these things. Matthew Gilligan of Savannah State University and Richard Brusca of the Desert Museum described the species (not a fish, by the way, but an isopod–think giant lice from hell) back in 1983. And I think I was the first to bring its special horror to the general audience in my book Parasite Rex. Nevertheless, I’m delighted to see Cymothoa exigua hitting the big time (the Colbert Report, at least) at last.

Here’s the clip: