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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 1:20 EDT

Bobbit Worm, Eunice aphroditois

The Bobbit Worm (Eunice aphroditois) is a species of aquatic polychaete worm found on the ocean floor at depths of 33 to 130 feet. It is only found in the Indo-Pacific oceanic region. This predatory organism buries its long body in gravel, mud or corals in the ocean bed, where it waits patiently for prey food to touch one of its five antennae. When touched, the worm, armed with razor sharp teeth shoots out at its attacker with such speed that it sometimes slices the prey in half.

Little is known about this annelid’s sexual habits or life span, but researchers speculate that sexual reproduction occurs at an early stage, possibly when the worm is only 3.9 inches in length, which is very early, considering the worm can grow to sizes more than 10 feet long — 3.3 feet is most common.

Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium in Cornwall, UK had discovered this worm in one of its aquariums in March 2009. The devastation caused by the worm was obvious; several fish had been injured and coral was seen sliced in half. Workers didn’t find the worm until they started tearing the display apart inside the tank.

Image Caption: Bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois). Credit: Jenny/Wikipedia(CC BY 2.0)

Bobbit Worm Eunice aphroditois