To some, this is the ugliest creature on the face of the earth. To others, it’s a prop in a porno movie. To old wooden ship sailors, it may have been death. Whatever your perspective, it’s pretty cool in this day and age to see a creature that’s been known for centuries finally see the light of day for the first time.
At more than 5 feet long, the Giant Shipworm lives in the mud or in the soft wood from which it gets its name, but it’s diet is fascinating. The worm (actually a mollusk) consumes hydrogen sulfide from decomposing matter in the mud, with symbiotic bacteria in the animal’s gut aiding digestion.
The story of how they found the animal is fascinating as well, so if you love marine biology or you own a wooden ship, head over to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for the full paper.