Today, I'm going to write about another parasite that eats not the tongue, but--get ready to cringe, guys--phallus.
Fortunately for us men these parasites prefer the penis of a type of sea snail called whelk.
|A whelk. Image: http://en.wikipedia.org|
In April 2000, a group of scientists from Canada decided to evaluate the impact of the parasites on the population of whelks in the northern gulf of St. Lawrence. The study--led by scientist Francoise Tetreault--involved collecting and dissecting 600 whelks and looking at their gonads, and compared the size of their gonads with the distribution of parasites.
The researchers discovered that there were 23% female and 15% male whelk whose gonads were affected. The parasite infected the digestive system as well, but 97% of the infected whelks had their gonads covered by 90% of the parasite.The parasite munched away a large portion of the male penis and changed the once bright color of the female gonad into pale grey.
|Picture (B) shows an uninfected whelk. Its penis is labelled as "P". |
Picture (D) shows an infected whelk. Look at the "P", and the whelk's sad face.
|Picture (A) shows the gonad(G) and digestive system(DG) of a female whelk.|
Pciture (B) shows the pale grey gonad of an infected female whelk.
Sucks to be a male whelk.
info: Tetreault, F., Himmelman, J., & Measures, L. (2000). Impact of a Castrating Trematode, Neophasis sp., on the Common Whelk, Buccinum undatum, in the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence Biological Bulletin, 198 (2) DOI: 10.2307/1542529