The British press and social media have been transfixed by a mystery dubbed #tunagate -- what on earth is that creepy, black-eyed creature discovered in a can of tuna? Now scientists say they think they know the answer -- but they don't all agree.
The saga began last month when a woman named Zoe Butler of Nottingham, England, opened a can of tuna for lunch and spotted the critter staring back at her. She tweeted a picture of it to local newspapers, asking them to help launch an investigation.
The Nottingham Post reports she also reached out to the manufacturer, Princes. "We were contacted by Mrs Butler and immediately responded to apologise," the company said. "We are arranging for her to send us the product so that we can look into this matter fully."
Now the results are in. The company says the creature was determined to be a Megalopa -- a very small, immature crab, the Post reported Friday. The company said it poses no food safety risk.
However, The Telegraph enlisted experts from the Natural History Museum in London to try to solve the mystery, and they came up with a different answer.
Museum scientist Stuart Hine told the Telegraph that the head probably belonged to a Cymothoa exigua, or tongue-eating louse, a parasite that enters through the gills of a fish and attaches itself to the fish's tongue. Hine said the parasite may have been attached to a smaller fish that was later eaten by the tuna.
Whichever version finally holds up, Butler told the Nottingham Post she's not asking for money or planning to sue. "I just want to find out what it is and to make sure it doesn't happen to somebody else," she said. "I didn't set out to get compensation and I don't a want lifetime's supply of tuna!"
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