JUN 19, 2019 4:19 PM PDT

Newly-Discovered Worm Has Eyeballs on its Butt

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Those working in the field of Biology will likely happen upon a plethora of strange things throughout their career, and that includes this newly-discovered marine worm species, which was purportedly found off the coast of Scotland while researchers were conducting seafloor samples of the West Shetland Shelf Marine Protected Area (MPA) for scientific analysis.

Image Credit: National Museums Scotland

The newly-discovered worm, which has been officially named Ampharete oculicirrata, is being described this month in a paper published in the European Journal of Taxonomy. It’s particularly astonishing because of the unconventional placement of its eyes – while some appear on the head as most would come to expect, the other ones purportedly reside on the worm’s posterior.

Indeed, you read that right; the newly-described worm species has eyeballs on its butt. Strange, right?

Related: What makes a species invasive?

A. oculicirrata isn’t particularly large, which could explain why it went undetected for so long. At just 4 millimeters (less than 0.2 inches) in length, you’d be hard-pressed to get a good look at the little critter without a microscope. Nevertheless, the close-up images provided by the scientists responsible for uncovering the worm are particularly breathtaking. 

On the rear-end of the worm, you’ll notice two string-like appendages – these are the rear-facing eyes. Researchers say that this is a particularly rare feature in many of the worm’s closest relatives, and that based on the worm’s biology, it’s likely a bottom-feeding critter.

The fact that this worm was discovered in a Marine Protected Area is also particularly noteworthy, as it goes to show that these regions are scientifically valuable and that they should remain protected.

"The fact that it was found in relatively shallow depths, relatively close to the Scottish coastline, shows just how much more there is to understand about the creatures that live in our waters," commented Jessica Taylor, a scientist with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).

"I'm excited about future JNCC and Marine Scotland surveys and what they may reveal," she continued, "and it's great that specimens of the new species have been acquired by National Museums Scotland and are available for future studies."

Related: How worms can help researchers learn more about PTSD

It should be interesting to see what other marine species might be hiding in the ocean as scientists continue their search. After all, this knowledge goes on to fuel a better understanding of the world around us and the animals that inhabit it.

Source: BBC, Live Science, European Journal of Taxonomy

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 13, 2021
Plants & Animals
A New Approach to Detecting Fraudulent Food
OCT 13, 2021
A New Approach to Detecting Fraudulent Food
Food fraud is the act of deceiving someone about the food they are receiving, such as its quality or where it came from, ...
OCT 26, 2021
Plants & Animals
This Wooden Knife is Harder Than Steel & Cuts Through Steak
OCT 26, 2021
This Wooden Knife is Harder Than Steel & Cuts Through Steak
Most good knives are made of steel or ceramic, but researchers have now developed a method for creating incredibly tough ...
OCT 25, 2021
Plants & Animals
Flaxseed Could Help Improve Inflammation And Oxidative Stress in Diabetes and CKD
OCT 25, 2021
Flaxseed Could Help Improve Inflammation And Oxidative Stress in Diabetes and CKD
Diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are common conditions that cause a range of morbidities, such as stro ...
OCT 26, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Glomalin, The Protein that Can Heal the Earth
OCT 26, 2021
Glomalin, The Protein that Can Heal the Earth
Soil quality is growing ever more important as we attempt to feed the growing world population. Our soils are being degr ...
NOV 05, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Solution to a Pigeon Genetic Mystery Provides Insight Into Development
NOV 05, 2021
Solution to a Pigeon Genetic Mystery Provides Insight Into Development
This photo by Sydney Stringham shows the domestic pigeons that were bred by the researchers for this research.
NOV 30, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Historical land dispossession makes Native Americans more vulnerable to climate change
NOV 30, 2021
Historical land dispossession makes Native Americans more vulnerable to climate change
Indigenous nations across the United States have lost 98.9% of their historical land base, leaving them more vulnerable ...
Loading Comments...