Scientists revealed a mysterious and massive shipworm for the first time in the Philippines. This creature can reach to measure five feet long and 2.3 inches in diameter. The new details were published in a science journal. This massive shipworm spends most of its life in a hard shell, in the mud, submerged with their head down. Scientists have known about its existence for years now, but they have never studied a living specimen.
- Scientists have discovered for the first time a massive shipworm which was alive.
- They have known about its existence for years due to the tube-like shell the creature used to leave behind.
- The shipworm feeds on mud and was revealed in the Philippines.
Even if its name suggests it is a worm, the shipworm is actually a bivalve, being part of the same group as mussels and clams. Based on the new study which was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the species known as Kuphus polythalamia is the longest bivalve ever discovered.
The team of scientists was formed from scientists coming from France, the US and the Philippines. They have worked together to analyze the five massive shipworms which they uncovered in a marine bay in Mindanao. The team was conducted by Daniel Distel of Northeastern University in Massachusetts, US. A new video revealed that scientists cut off the end of this creature’s shell and then they shook it out of it to show a long, black worm coming out of the tube-like shell.
This massive shipworm can feed with the help of a valve which has two siphones situated at its tail to expel and take in water. The members of the family it pertains to are a lot smaller than this specimen. They usually feed on rotting wood. This specimen which was recently found is unusual not just because of its size, but also because it feeds on marine sediment and mud, using a particular type of bacteria.
Thus, scientists figured out that it has a smaller digestive system compared to the rest of the specimen from the same family. This creature can develop the shell on its own, by secreting a substance. The shell is made from calcium carbonate. The shell is covered by a hard cap which is also secreted by the shipworm. When the animal wants to burrow and grow further into the mud, the cap is re-absorbed.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia