Beautiful but Deadly
Eunice aphroditois (colloquially known as the Bobbit(t) worm) is an aquatic predatory polychaete worm dwelling at the ocean floor. The animal buries its long body into an ocean bed composed of gravel, mud, or corals, where it waits patiently for a stimulus to one of its five antennae, attacking when it senses prey. Armed with sharp teeth, it is known to attack with such speed that its prey is sometimes sliced in half. Although the worm hunts for food, it is omnivorous.
Little is known about the sexual habits and lifespan of this worm, but researchers hypothesize that sexual reproduction occurs at an early stage, maybe even when the worm is about 100 mm (3.9 in) in length; this is very early, considering these worms can grow to sizes of nearly 3 m (9.8 ft) in some cases (although most observations point to a much lower average length of 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and an average of 25 mm (0.98 in) in diameter). A longlifespan may very well explain the size of these creatures.[verification needed]
E. aphroditois is found in warmer oceans around the world, including the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic.
Bobbit worms may be accidentally introduced into artificial environments. In March 2009, the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, Cornwall, discovered a Bobbit worm in one of their tanks. The workers had seen the devastation caused by the worm, such as fish being injured or disappearing and coral being sliced in half, but did not find it until they started taking the display apart in the tank. The worm was nicknamed "Barry".
Another Bobbit worm, three and a half feet long and a few inches thick, was found October 7, 2013 in Maidenhead Aquatics in Woking, Surrey.
NameThe name "Bobbit worm" was coined in the 1996 book Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific, in reference to Lorena Bobbitt, who was then very much in the public consciousness. The name is inspired only by the scissorlike jaws of the worm; the common supposition that female eunicids cut off the males' penises is false. In fact, the worms lack penises entirely as they are broadcast spawners.
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