APR 06, 2017 7:00 AM PDT

Newly Discovered Worm Snail Shoots Webs Like Spiderman

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

While investigating a shipwreck off of the coast of the Florida Keys, which is now considered an artificial reef, scientists found a large concentration of worm snails that appeared to be unique to the region. Their curiosity into the matter led them to dig deeper, and landed them at the conclusion that they were dealing with an entirely new species.

The worm snail Thylacodes vandyensis in its natural habitat.

Dubbed Thylacodes vandyensis, named after the shipwreck where it was discovered, the new species of worm snail reportedly isn’t native to the Atlantic Ocean where it was found, which piqued the researchers’ interest from the very start.

DNA samples confirmed that the creature is related to some other worm snails that are known to exist in the Pacific Ocean, but that this particular species has never been observed before. The complete findings appear in the journal PeerJ.

Worm snails are known to be quite mobile as young creatures, but once they get older and their unique shells attach to something, they become immobile and tend to stay put for the rest of their lives. That said, it’s possible the species drifted from the Pacific Ocean and found its landing spot right where it was discovered.

The shipwreck is reportedly home to thousands of these worm snails, which range in size with the average being around one inch long with a shell hole of 0.2 inches wide. Their shells are quite unique too, as they’re tubular in shape rather than coiled like most other snail species, so they’re pretty hard to miss.

On the other hand, perhaps the most interesting quality about Thylacodes vandyensis is how it seems to have Spiderman-like qualities. Using its own mucous, it’s able to eject nets into its surroundings, which it then uses to capture nearby prey, such as plankton and microorganisms.

Interestingly, these nets also seem to contain chemicals that deter predatory fish, which explains how they’re able to stay stationary for so long without being eaten.

Nevertheless, as crafty as worm snails are, and as exciting as it is to know that we’ve discovered a new species, some are still wary over their ability to thrive in a new environment, as many worm snails are known to carry problematic burdens to the surrounding environment.

For example, they’re known to destroy coral reefs and to harbor parasites that are bad for the surrounding wildlife. Amid many of the other problems the Earth is facing today, this is just an added bonus to the number of things that harm our beloved coral reefs, and it’s something we have to keep an eye on.

Fortunately, the worm snails seem to be staying put in the artificial reefs and not spreading to the natural coral reefs where they can enact far worse damage, but no one can say for sure that this won’t change in the future.

It should be interesting to see if researchers are able to find any other interesting creatures in this artificial coral reef.

Source: DailyMail

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
JAN 30, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Invasive species reduce water resources in Ethiopia
JAN 30, 2021
Invasive species reduce water resources in Ethiopia
An invasive evergreen tree, known as Prosopis juliflora, is quite the thirsty species. Prosopis has taken over large swa ...
FEB 19, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Ultraviolet TV for animals - and what it can teach us
FEB 19, 2021
Ultraviolet TV for animals - and what it can teach us
Does your dog like watching TV with you? Chances are probably not, because dogs’ eyes see light much faster than h ...
FEB 25, 2021
Plants & Animals
Do Fish Have Personality?
FEB 25, 2021
Do Fish Have Personality?
Fish may seem to just swim around without much thought or character. But new research reported in Ecology and Evolution ...
MAR 05, 2021
Plants & Animals
Scientists Heal Diseased Corals
MAR 05, 2021
Scientists Heal Diseased Corals
The world's coral reefs face numerous threats, including climate change, pollution, and habitat loss. Since 2014, an ...
MAR 09, 2021
Microbiology
Dogs' Paws Are Cleaner Than Their Owners' Shoes
MAR 09, 2021
Dogs' Paws Are Cleaner Than Their Owners' Shoes
Assistance dogs are vital to many people who need them to perform daily tasks, but are sometimes denied entry to places ...
MAR 23, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Honeybees send chemical messages by "twerking"
MAR 23, 2021
Honeybees send chemical messages by "twerking"
Remember playing telephone as a kid (or an adult)? It always brings a laugh when you try to pass a word or sentence alon ...
Loading Comments...