This unusual, 8-inch long marine worm looks like something out of a nightmare — a luxury nightmare, for that matter.
In the vast Southern Ocean near Antarctica, there lives a giant polynoid worm that has some really peculiar looks. The two most stand-out characteristics of Eulagisca gigantea are its golden-bristled abdomen and a disturbing toothy grin on what appears to be its head, making it look like the creepiest luxury item ever.
As weird as it may look, research suggests it could be crucial to the health of our ecosystems.
The latin name of bristle worms (polychaetes) translates to “many small hairs”. And those hairs glitter.
These guys come in a number of shapes and sizes, from round, candy-sized worms to ones that measure more than two meters in length — found in just about every color and in many different habitats, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
Whether Eulagisca gigantea uses its glamorous bristles as a form of transportation over the ocean floor or as a means for defense, remains unknown. The species was discovered in 1939, but we still don’t know much about its biology or diet — nevertheless, the size of its jaws suggests it is a predator that feeds on other animals. But its sharp teeth could indicate it’s also a scavenger.
And if that wasn’t enough: the body part resembling a head is actually a retractable throat that extends outwards about two inches when the worm feeds.