Animal Battle 4: tongue-eating louse vs. stinky stinkbird

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Animals are awesome. But which is the ultimate champion? Over the next seven weeks, we’ll be pitting some of nature’s most remarkable creatures against one another in a series of virtual battles. Two animals per week, head-to-head, in a ruthless knockout tournament. And you get to decide who wins.

This isn’t a battle in the conventional sense – after all, how can you judge a fight between a shark and an echidna? We want you to vote for the animal you think is the most amazing, the most hardcore, the cutest, the ugliest, the deadliest, the weirdest. In short: vote for the best. The inaugural series of Animal Battle will run for seven weeks, after which you, the voting public, will crown the first champion.

This tongue-eating louse chomped its way to victory this week, earning itself a place in our second semi-final. The first semi-final sees the tardigrade take on the Greenland shark. Vote for your favourite here.

Killer feature: Pretends to be a fish’s tongue Special ability: Transforms from male to female when it finds a home Location: In oceans worldwide

This parasitic crustacean crawls into a fish’s mouth through its gills and then severs the blood vessels in the base of the tongue. Once the tongue has fallen off, the louse uses its legs to attach itself to the stump left behind. It then proceeds to nibble on the inside of its host’s mouth, feeding on blood and mucus. Nasty.

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