This Oceanic Worm Discovery Might Keep You On Dry Land This Summer
The word "yuck" doesn't even begin to describe this thing.
Our oceans are a vast ecosystem that we've barely tapped the surface of what lies beneath. Case in point, the giant shipworm. Scientists have known about this
odd gross-looking creature for years, from its shell fragments and the occasional dead one that washed up on shore.
Until just recently one had never been seen alive. That all changed though when one of the prehistoric creatures was found alive in the mud of a shallow lagoon in the Philippines.
It's not exactly a pretty thing either.
Behold, the giant shipworm!
The face only a mother could love... assuming you can tell which end is its face.
Known as "the unicorn of mollusks" for how rare it is says Margo Haygood, a marine microbiologist at the University of Utah, it holds the title as the world's longest clam, living in 3-foot-long baseball bat-looking shells.
What's unique about the discovery, is that it sort of happened by accident. A TV station in the area aired a short segment about a bizarre shellfish living in the muck of a lagoon, but nobody knew what it was. A colleague of Haygood’s in the Philippines saw the segment and went to investigate with a team of researchers. It was then that they confirmed the first existence of a live giant shipworm.
“To me it was almost like finding a dinosaur – something that was pretty much only known by fossils."
The giant shipworm's smaller cousins feed on submerged wood through the use of wood-degrading bacteria that live in their gills. The giant shipworm because of its small digestive system uses bacteria in its gills that use hydrogen sulphide in the water as an energy source. This way it's able to turn carbon dioxide into food, reports the Guardian.
So not to worry, there's no chance of this thing grabbing your leg and sucking you down for lunch.