Were you ever told that if you swallowed any apple seeds, a tree would start growing in your stomach? Well, these medical case studies are a bit like that, but 100 times worse.
A 63-year-old woman in South Korea had her mouth inseminated by sperm after eating some undercooked seafood, resulting in doctors discovering "12 small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like" sperm bags embedded in her tongue and gums. Yum.
As documented in a 2012 edition of the Journal of Parasitology, the foreign bodies were identified as squid spermatophores (sperm-containing capsules) belonging to a Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus). Rather foolishly, the woman had not removed the internal organs of the squid and proceeded to only parboil it for a few seconds before eating it, meaning its spermatophores were still alive and well.
“As soon as she put a piece into her mouth, she felt like many 'bugs' were biting her oral mucosa,” the study reads. “She experienced severe sharp pain and spat out the entire portion without swallowing. Despite that, she could feel many small squirming white bug-like organisms penetrating her oral mucosa.”
Even after they were removed from her mouth, the little spermatophores were reportedly still squirming around.
It’s worth highlighting that these things are not literally organisms or “bugs”. They are spermatophores, effectively a sack of sperm used by a fair few invertebrates (and some vertebrates) to fertilize the female's eggs during reproduction. So, they are not actually baby squids anymore than sperm is a baby human. Nevertheless, it’s still a very strange case, as the scientists are not sure how the spermatophores managed to implant themselves into the woman’s mouth.
In 2011, a 21-year-old woman in Japan suffered a similar experience after eating the sexual organs of a raw squid. As documented in Pathology International, she also felt a stinging sensation.
“The right fourth arm of a mature male of Todarodes pacificus serves as the genital organ of the animal. Using this arm, the squid grabs the sperm bag that comes out from its penis and presses it against a female’s body,” the study authors explained.
“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.”
This whole process is actually autonomous, meaning that the squid’s sex organ is prone to firing off without any conscious decision by the squid, according to a study in the journal Zoomorphology.
The moral of the story is pretty damn clear: don’t eat raw squid sex organs. Eating undercooked food, especially raw animal products, always comes with a risk.
Lastly, don’t expect your fried calamari to impregnate your tongue. Most squid you get in a restaurant won’t include sex organs and, failing that, it should have been cooked enough to kill off any spermatophores.