This parasite is Braunina cordiformis! Remember last time how we said it was heart shaped? Well, cordiform means heart shaped, so its scientific name is actually based on its shape! This parasite is the only species in the family Brauninidae and is found in the fundic (main) and pyloric stomachs and duodenal ampullae. It’s thought that the membrane like structure surrounding the body of the parasite protects the parasite from the acidic nature of the stomach. These flukes attach to the mucous membrane in the stomach in bottlenose dolphins. They cause damage by pulling on the gastric wall and causing the connective tissue underneath to stick out, damaging the the wall’s tissue and the cells in the mucous layer and causing chronic gastritis. However, the level of damage is unknown and there appears to be very little other negative effects.
Posted by fall intern, Adrienne V-H.
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