Here's a story that could put you off calamari for a while. According to a scientific paper from the Journal of Parasitology, a 63-year-old Korean woman "experienced severe pain in her oral cavity immediately after eating a portion of parboiled squid along with its internal organs." She spat out the food in her mouth, but still had a "pricking and foreign-body sensation" in her oral cavity. When she went to the hospital, they removed a dozen "small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms stuck in the mucous membrane of the tongue, cheek, and gingiva."
Yes, the dead squid's spermatophores were still active, and they'd inseminated the woman's mouth.
Top image: Mike Towber/Flickr.
Danna Staaf from Squid a Day, who found this bizarre story, explains further:
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.
But whatever the details, it's happened to humans more than once. An earlier case study reports "sperm stings" from consumption of raw squid, but the recent Journal of Parasitology paper is the first report I've seen of spermatophore activity in a cooked squid (parboiled, to be specific). That's . . . quite impressive, actually.
But don't worry — Staaf notes that Western squid preparations typically remove the internal organs from squid and leave only the muscle — so you're not in any danger of accidentally ingesting spermatophores. Also, they're not dangerous unless they make contact with a mucous membrane. Read tons more about this weird phenomenon at the link. [Squid a Day]