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Weird Marine Worm Resembles a Christmas Decoration from Hell

If Tim Burton designed vacation ornaments, they may look one thing like this bristle worm.

Credit score: Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past, Smithsonian Establishment


An Eight-inch-long marine worm that lives within the waters close to Antarctica has an oval physique ringed with shiny golden bristles and topped with a sharp-toothed maw. It considerably resembles a ornament for the Christmas season — if vacation ornaments included bulbous, extendable throats tipped with pointy tooth.


The weird creature is Eulagisca gigantea, and although it not too long ago circulated on-line in images that appeared on social media, it’s extra ceaselessly discovered within the Southern Ocean waters, close to Antarctica.


E. gigantea belongs to a category of marine worms referred to as polychaetes, often known as bristle worms (their title means “many bristles” in Latin). The group’s bristles can have a spread of makes use of — swimming, crawling alongside the ocean flooring, and even for protection, in line with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Analysis Institute (MBARI). [In Photos: Weird Bristle Worm Calls Antarctica Home]


Little is understood in regards to the habits and biology of this peculiar worm, which was first found in 1939, the World Register of Marine Species reported. What seems to be a “head” in photographs is definitely a retractable pharynx that’s usually housed inside its physique, as in different polychaete marine worms. When the animal feeds, this part of its throat — tipped by its jaws — extends outward, to a size of about 2 inches (5 centimeters), in line with a photograph within the Smithsonian Museum of Pure Historical past’s assortment.


And its sharp tooth recommend that it preys on different animals or scavenges their stays, the marine biology weblog Deep Sea Information reported in 2012. A photograph shared in a July 7 Fb publish exhibits a specimen with extruded jaws that was discovered within the Antarctic Ocean at a depth of 1,706 to 2,198 toes (520 to 670 meters) and highlights the sensible golden colour of its bristles.


This giant-scale worm, which belongs to a species referred to as Eulagisca gigantean and a household referred to as Polynoidae, was discovered within the Antarctic Ocean on the depth of 520-670 m (1706-2198 ft). (Credit score: JC Mendoza/NMNH)


Posted by Hashem Al-Ghaili on Friday, July 7, 2017


Polychaete worms symbolize a spread of sizes and colours and are distributed throughout quite a lot of habitats — from excessive environments like hydrothermal vents to shallow tide swimming pools and coral reefs, MBARI reported. Scientists have to date described 80 households and eight,000 species of polychaete worms, however there could also be many extra, in line with MBARI.


The truth is, researchers not too long ago used DNA analyses to estimate that there could possibly be greater than twice as many marine worm species within the oceans than beforehand suspected, scientists reported in a examine printed November 2016 within the journal Royal Society Open Science. E. gigantea and different weird marine worms could also be unusual to our eyes, however they probably play a significant position in ocean ecosystems, and will inform scientists’ understanding of life within the deep ocean, the researchers wrote within the examine.


Authentic article on Dwell Science.

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