While some avoid seafood because of allergies or out of fear of food poisoning, no one (at least, not yet) avoids it because they’re afraid their dinner might fertilize their mouth with small sperm-like microbodies. Well, that’s exactly what happened to a 63-year-old South Korean woman who, after eating undercooked squid, found 12 small, spindle-like sperm bags embedded in her tongue and gums.
The woman had not removed the internal organs of the squid before eating; she only parboiled it for a few seconds, resulting in the squid’s spermatophores being alive and active. A study in the Journal of Parasitology identified the foreign bodies as sperm-containing capsules, belonging to a Japanese flying squid.
“As soon as she put a piece into her mouth, she felt like many “bugs were biting her oral mucosa,” the study says. “She experienced severe sharp pain and spat out the entire portion without swallowing.” Even after doctors removed the spermatophores from the woman’s mouth, they were still squirming around; and while they aren’t exactly “bugs”, they are essentially a sack of sperm used by some invertebrates to fertilize the female’s eggs. Scientists still aren’t sure how the sperm managed to implant themselves into the woman’s gums.
This isn’t the first instance of squid leaving an unwelcome aftertaste. In 2011, a 21-year-old Japanese woman had a similar experience after eating the sexual organs of a raw squid. A study in Pathology International said that “consumption of a squid with sperm bags and an active ejaculatory apparatus can lead to unintended ejection of the sperm bag and injury to the oral mucosa.”
So, maybe think twice before ordering raw squid next time — or at least don’t act surprised when you get a dessert you didn’t exactly order.
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