Thursday, March 08, 2007

Yes, it's a worm.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has an interesting piece on the discovery of a new deep-sea worm. This worm, Chaetopterus pugaporcinus, is unlike any worm you have probably ever seen. In fact, it was unlike any worm anyone had ever really seen. To figure out what exactly it was, scientists needed to combine a number of taxonomic techniques, including DNA analysis. What makes this discovery particularly interesting is that it resembles the larval stages of closely-related species, but is up to 10x larger than any known larvae - so either it is an adult that has maintained larval features or it is one giant baby (well, giant as far as deep-sea worms go).

Also rather interesting is where and how this worm lives - floating along 1,500 meters (4,000 feet) below the surface, mouth pointed downward so it can release a "mucus cloud" to trap bits of food (lunch anyone?). Follow the links below to the discovery and more photos and to the Monterey Aquarium website.

A worm like no other

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) website

Monterey Bay Aquarium website - if you're ever near Monterey, CA you definitely need to check this place out

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