The University of Waikato - Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato
Faculty of Science and Engineering - Te Mātauranga Pūtaiao me te Pūkaha
Waikato Home Waikato Home > Science & Engineering > BioBlog
Staff + Student Login

a beautiful nightmare

A few weeks back I briefly mentioned the 'bobbit worm' - a rather large polychaete worm of scary appearance (a friend said 'nightmarish' was closer to the mark) and predatory habits. I've noticed on Facebook how interest in any particular subject seems to come in waves, and so it is with this creature. 

For via FB I've come to Matt Simon's interesting article - with Jenny Huang's rather lovely photo - on wiredscience.

File:Eunice aphroditois.jpg

Image by Jenny Huang,via Wikimedia

A beautiful nightmare, then.

Apparently there's not a lot known about them in the wild, but these worms can be a right pain in the proverbial for aquarium keepers: bring in some coral for your tropical marine tank, & it's possible there's a little bobbit worm hiding in there, ready to come out & pick off your fish when it's feeling peckish. And growing bigger... up to 3 metres or more in length.

It's possible that, like other similar polychaetes, bobbit worms reproduce in a distinctly odd manner: at certain times of year the rear part of each worms body, packed with gametes, breaks off and swims upwards to the surface in a massive, mass mating swarm. Which leaves Simon with the opportunity for a truly excellent punch-line for his story:

Hate to leave you with the image of a beautiful tropical ocean swarming with sex-crazed 10-foot-long worms with hair-trigger jaws, but that's totally happening now.

| | Comments (8)
Share via Email Share this on Twitter Share this on Google+ Share this on Facebook

8 Comments

Ah, I see you linked to that already in your July post (when I was travelling & not reading BB).

See? Sometimes I manage to get to things before the Riddled team grabs them!

I believe that we still have precedence for Parchment worms.

Given the fate of the original Bobbit(t), is it appropriate that the reproductive parts of these critters become separated from the rest of their bodies?

Definitely!

Yes, the similarity with John Wayne Bobbitt is uncanny.

I came across a description of another species of Bobbit worm -- the white-banded bobbit worm Eunice valens -- which *doesn't* follow the detachable-body-part approach to breeding:
"in this species the adults do not become anatomically specialized during reproduction". Bummer.

The webpage also refers to *yet another* species, E. kobiensis. Multiple bobbit worms! Yay!

Leave a comment

September 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          

Recent Comments

  • herr doktor bimler: I came across a description of another species of Bobbit read more
  • Marcus Wilson: Yes, the similarity with John Wayne Bobbitt is uncanny. read more
  • Alison Campbell: Definitely! read more
  • David: Given the fate of the original Bobbit(t), is it appropriate read more
  • herr doktor bimler: I believe that we still have precedence for Parchment worms. read more
  • Alison Campbell: See? Sometimes I manage to get to things before the read more
  • herr doktor bimler: Ah, I see you linked to that already in your read more
  • herr doktor bimler: There was this from a year ago. read more