Last month, the Twitter hashtag #TunaGate went viral after one unlucky shopper found a tiny critter in her tin of Princes tuna.
Some people were horrified by the tiny creature, which was believed to be a tadpoles or baby crab, while others described its appearance as “cute”.
— StokeonTrentLive (@Sotlive) February 6, 2015
— Energy PR (@EnergyPR) February 6, 2015
However, Stuart Hine, Identification and Advisory Service manager at London’s Natural History Museum has said that thinks the big-eyed organism could be the tongue-eating parasite, Cymothoa exigua.
Hine said that he could not be sure about its classification without examining it directly, but from the pictures he believed it to be “the head of a Tongue-eating louse, Cymothoa exigua, or similar”.
Cymothoa exigua enters a fish through its gills and attaches itself to the tongue, which it then destroys to become the fish’s new tongue.
The parasite is normally found in smaller fish, the sort of fish that tuna eat, which is likely how it would have ended up in the tin of tuna.