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Feature Creature: Bobbit Worm

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Feature Creature: Bobbit Worm

Flickr user JennyHuang

Flickr user JennyHuang

Flickr user JennyHuang

Tara Afshar, Journalist

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One of the most terrifying predators in the ocean comes in the form of (at its longest) a ten foot long bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois). The bobbit worm is indigenous to the tropical oceans of Indo-Pacific, and is known for its clever, ruthless hunting method. Burying itself into the sea floor, the bobbit worm exposes only a few inches of its body so it can uses five antennae to sense unknowing prey and strike with its extremely muscled mouth, or pharynx. Subsequent to a bobbit worm attack, razor edge teeth inject its victim with toxins to allow for an easy digestion before wrenching its prey under the seafloor.
Unfortunately, the bobbit worm had a far more fearsome relative dating back to 400 million years ago. According to Earth Touch News Network, fossil remains had been found in Ontario, Canada of the colossal “snap-jawed relative” known as Websteroprion armstrongi that dwelled in the prehistoric seas. The fossils of this fright inducing beast were dug up in 1994 among other remains in the Hudson Bay Basin, but scientist hadn’t discovered what the creature was until recently. Since worms are mostly soft, the majority of fossils found were of the jaw which larger and even stronger than that of the bobbit worm. Due to the lack of fossils for the Websteroprion, it’s difficult to distinguish between whether the prehistoric creature was a carnivorous eater or not. Its huge jaws couldn’t be the only reason scientists presume the nightmare sea creature would be a carnivore.
Another unknown, is why the Websteroprion is so large in the first place. We still don’t know whether its defense, competition, or some other form of survival method. What we do know, is that the fossil of the deep sea relative shows how much a species can evolve.
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Feature Creature: Bobbit Worm