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What is Levinson's science fiction film Isopod?

Isopod.jpgLittle is known about the news that sprung up about Barry Levinson tackling a science fiction project called Isopod, but there's plenty known about the creature itself which does raise some interesting possibilities.

Then there's the question of Levinson doing science fiction, think Man of the Year, Sphere, Wag the Dog, Sleepers, Disclosure, Toys, Bugsy, Rain Man, and Good Morning, Vietnam. Now that's Levinson, so science fiction's something new.

The story is that the film will be called Isopod, and no more is known. Brilliant marketing because now people will go off and do what I'm about to do.

Production Weekly tweeted, found through The Playlist, that Barry Levinson was making Isopod as his next film without revealing anything more other than its science fiction. It's definitely not something anyone expected from him, but it does hold promise.

Here's what Wikipedia says on Isopods:

Isopods are relatively small crustaceans with seven pairs of legs of similar size and form, ranging in size from 300 micrometres (0.012 in) to nearly 50 centimetres (20 in) in the case of Bathynomus giganteus. They are typically flattened dorso-ventrally, although many species deviate from this plan, particularly those from the deep sea or from ground water.

Think woodlice, pill bugs, nothing too exciting so far, until you get deeper into the article. There are about four and a half thousand species of the creatures found in water, mainly on the sea floor, with five hundred found in fresh water, that means the deep ocean floors are covered with them. Then there's the other five thousand species of woodlice.

That's a lot to go on, so he could be making a film about a woodlice uprising, but I doubt it, there are two big options that leap out here. One is to make a film about these deep sea creatures, creatures that science has just touched the surface of discovering, for deep on that sea bed there are some bizarre creatures we've hardly, or never, seen.

Then something caught my eye, and this is the second route that the film might take, of course bear in mind that this is guesswork at the moment:

A number of isopod groups have evolved a parasitic lifestyle. The suborder Cymothoida is exclusively parasitic, while the polyphyletic suborder Flabellifera is partly parasitic. Cymothoa exigua, for example, is a parasite of the spotted rose snapper fish Lutjanus guttatus in the Gulf of California; it eats the tongue of the fish, and takes its place, in the only known instance of a parasite functionally replacing a host structure.

Did you get that? Not the "pretty parasitic" comment which made me smirk, but the fact that the parasitic Isopod Cymothoa exigua eats the tongue of the fish and replaces it? Now there's an idea if ever I heard one. Parasitic creatures that replace body parts, continue to function as per normal but scrape off enough to survive and not kill the host?

This parasite enters through the gills, and then attaches itself at the base of the spotted rose snapper's (Lutjanus guttatus) tongue. It extracts blood through the claws on its front, causing the tongue to atrophy from lack of blood. The parasite then replaces the fish's tongue by attaching its own body to the muscles of the tongue stub. The fish is able to use the parasite just like a normal tongue. It appears that the parasite does not cause any other damage to the host fish. Once C. exigua replaces the tongue, some feed on the host's blood and many others feed on fish mucus. This is the only known case of a parasite functionally replacing a host organ

Well it's fun to speculate, and do bear in mind that there's nothing concrete in this at all other than the fact that the independent science fiction film he's making is called Isopod, the classification of these creatures.

You have to admit though, the idea of the parasitic Isopod is an interesting one, especially if it replaces your body parts with no harm to yourself. So the question is what will Barry Levinson's film be about?



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