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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Creature Feature: Candiru.

You thought the brown recluse was cruel? Nature's specialty is playing mean jokes on humanity. Here, let us show you:



Yes, that little fish just went where the sun don't shine. It did not mean to; exactly why it did in this instance has not yet been determined, despite what the video says. The fish in question is called a candiru, and it usually parasitizes catfish.

Candiru can refer, variously, to either one species (Vandellia cirrhosa), a whole genus of parasitic catfish (yes, catfish in catfish), or two of the genera in the family Trichomycteridae. All species called "candiru" are native to the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers in Brazil.

Tiny fish are tiny!
 














The candiru that people usually talk about is V. cirrhosa. V. cirrhosa is a hematophagous parasite of catfish gills. It has a slender, clear body which also lends it the name "toothpick fish." It normally swims into the gills of a larger catfish and, using special spines, locks itself into the gills until it has sucked enough blood. It only stays in the fish's gills for a few seconds.

Now for the ultimate question: Do these fish really enter human bodies through the junk?

For the record, penes do have bones. None of them look like fish.
 

















 Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes, but it's rare. The only known recorded attack was in 1997, but there are a few sociocultural records detailing candiru attacks as well. The tribesmen of the Amazon prescribe two plants, Genipa americana and a special kind of apple, in order to kill (actually DISSOLVE) the fish. Westerners typically use surgery. The natives have become OK with that, too.

Nobody is 100% sure on why candiru occasionally swim into the human nether regions. Tests have disproved the 'urea' theory mentioned in the video. According to newer research, the candiru is a more visual hunter than anything. If it goes up one's junk, that might just be a compliment; it thought that person was a big fish, after all.



Tomorrow: Look out, there are llamas!

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