A jet-black, slippery and slimy sea creature was recently discovered by scientists in the Philippines.
“To me, [finding the giant shipworm] is almost like finding a dinosaur — something that was pretty much only known by fossils,” Dan Distel, research professor at Northeastern University.
The discovery came about by chance, when Dr. Distel’s team was working in the Philippines with local scientists. The research started when one of their students found a great video about the creature on Youtube.
For hundreds of years, scientists have only seen dead specimens of the huge mollusc. People have known this because of the shells they have left, as huge as the size of baseball bats.
According to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the “rare and enigmatic species,” also known as Kuphus Polythamia, is the longest living bivalve known to man.
The creature belongs to the shipworm family, whose members are usually much smaller. They burrow into and feed on decomposing wood.
It is unique not just for its size but also, for feeding on nutrients in mud and marine sediment using a type of bacteria. Therefore, it has a much smaller digestive system compared to other shipworms.
Aside from its exciting discovery, the team also revealed that there is an entire hidden ecosystem at play.
The giant shipworm has bacteria that live inside its shell, converting chemicals from the nearby rotting wood into energy and nutrients, similar to what plants do with sunlight.
*With reports from Yahoo News
*Content suggested by Michael Dugenia