Here’s a fascinating little nightmare to start your Friday on the right foot:
While munching away on a serving of parboiled squid including the internal organs, a 63 year-old Korean woman felt “severe pain in her oral cavity” along with a “pricking and foreign-body sensation.” She immediately spat out the remaining bite, but when the pain and “what the fuck is in my mouth” sensation persisted, she rushed to the hospital.
There, doctors removed what a Journal of Parasitology paper later described as 12 “small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms stuck in the mucous membrane of the tongue, cheek, and gingiva”—the dead squid’s live spermatophores which had inseminated the woman’s mouth.
What is a spermatophore? you ask, after cleaning the vomit from your keyboard. Squid a Day, a fascinating cephalopod blog on Science 20 by biologist Danna Staaf, reports it’s nothing like a bug actually—no legs, no eyes. Rather, it’s “like a cup of semen–nothing more than an aggregation of gametes.” So, yeah—12 little cups of squid semen implanted themselves in the woman’s mouth. Yummy.
And there’s more:
Each spermatophore includes an ejaculatory apparatus, which can expel the sperm mass quite forcefully, and a cement body for attachment. Of course, neither of those is a needle or a knife–the sort of thing you’d expect to need for actual implantation (into either a female squid or a human mouth). I’ve written a bit about this mystery before. As it turns out, no one is quite sure how spermatophores implant themselves into skin.
Ah, science. Full of mystery and life lessons, the one in this case being, if you’re going to eat parboiled squid (and you might not want to do that to start with), stay the hell away from the internal organs.
*Parboiled means partly cooked by boiling.