A tiny sea creature that was found by a mother in a tin of tuna chunks is a tongue-eating parasite, experts have claimed.
Zoe Butler, 28, was horrified when she opened the tin of Princes tuna to discover the tiny species' black eyes staring back at her.
After appealing to experts, scientists at the Natural History Museum believe they have identified the creature as a Cymothoa exigua, or tongue-eating louse, which live inside fish.
Typically it enters a fish's body through the gills and attaches itself to the tongue.
'From what I can see I would support the head of a Tongue-eating louse, Cymothoa exigua or similar, Stuart Hine, Identifcation and Advisory Service manager at the Museum told the Telegraph.
'I think these are associates of smaller fish than Tuna and fish that tuna eat.'
It is not the first time the parasite has almost made its way onto the plate in Britain, with a Morrisons customer shocked to discover an adult Cymothoa in a fillet of sea bass.
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Paul Poli, 62, was about to tuck into his dinner when he spotted the gruesome yellow creature inside the fish.
He took it back to the Morrisons supermarket in Llanelli, where he had bought the sea bass from the fishmonger's counter.
Ms Butler, who lives in Nottingham, discovered the species' tiny head last week after opening the can of tuna she bought in Asda.
'I opened the top of the lid and saw a purple thing, a gut sack or intestine - then I turned it round and pushed it with a fork and saw it looking back at me,' said the 28-year-old.
'It's got like a spiny tail along the bottom - it's quite grim. I dropped the fork, jumped back, screamed a bit and shouted for my nan to come and have a look.'
After conducting their own investigation, Princes however said the creature is more likely to be a juvenile crab than the tongue-eating parasite.
Dr Hany Elsheikha, associate professor of veterinary parasitology at the University of Nottingham, previously said it could be some form of crustacean.
He said: 'All I can see from the picture is a body and the eyes are very prominent.
'The legs have been chopped off during the process.'
An Asda spokeswoman said they were awaiting the outcome of the investigation.
- Daily Mail