Pharyngula

A face you’ve got to love

An aquarium was having a problem with their coral reef and fish disappearing overnight. It wasn’t the cephalopod! They dismantled the reef rock and discovered a 4-foot long polychaete worm.

i-e179a9df6f011fc7e2dadabd9c2fb3d4-barry.jpeg

They’ve given the beast its own tank now. Good thing — I’d pay to go see that.

Comments

  1. #1 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 2, 2009

    Here fishy fishy fishy…

  2. #2 Funnyguts
    April 2, 2009

    Oh god it’s a lamprey with tentacles. Stupid evolution and its nightmare fuel.

  3. #3 Steve_C
    April 2, 2009

    Damn it. I was just starting to get really sleepy. I hope I don’t have nightmares about that friggin worm.

  4. #4 Maltodextrin
    April 2, 2009

    And here I was about to go to sleep. Thanks a lot nature.

  5. #5 Bride of Shrek OM
    April 2, 2009

    Now you all know what Mr Shrek looks like first thing in the morning.

  6. #6 Bridge Dweller
    April 2, 2009

    If you look real close, or have had enough to drink, you can see Paul Atreides and a trio of Freman riding it.

  7. #7 Pdiff
    April 2, 2009

    Ahhhh. Now it’s going to be lonely AND hungry :-(

  8. #8 Noadi
    April 2, 2009

    ‘We also discovered that he is covered with thousands of bristles which are capable of inflicting a sting resulting in permanent numbness.’

    I really feel bad for the poor person(s) that found that out.

    That totally needs it’s own cheesy B horror movie, it’s huge, ugly, and venomous.

  9. #9 Steve Loeb
    April 2, 2009

    Wonderful. The internet gives me yet another reason to spend the night whimpering in the fetal position.

  10. #10 Derrick
    April 2, 2009

    stinging tentacles? Doesn’t look cnidarian to me…what species is that vile thing?

  11. #11 Larry
    April 2, 2009

    I was going to ask how in hell it got there, but I found at least a partial answer after going back and reading the article. And the other picture was even scarier. I think
    they should inspect their supply of coral better om their next delivery.

  12. #12 Mike Latiolais
    April 2, 2009

    That totally needs it’s own cheesy B horror movie, it’s huge, ugly, and venomous.
    Any bets on when the Syfy channel will use it in one of their “crappy monster movie of the week” trainwrecks?

  13. #13 William Gulvin
    April 2, 2009

    Whee! The nightmares just keep coming, so to speak, with this critter. It’s commonly called a “Bobbit worm.” Read the link and be even more afraid, guys:
    http://www.monblog.ch/optimiste/?p=200604021444406

  14. #14 Dr. Pablito
    April 2, 2009

    I, for one, welcome our new aquatic worm overlords.

  15. #15 llewelly
    April 3, 2009

    And here I was about to go to sleep. Thanks a lot nature.

    I don’t see what you’re worried about. It was only a 4-footer. Not like the 12-footers that haunt some sewer systems.

  16. #16 Paguroidea
    April 3, 2009

    William – You’re going to give us nightmares tonight with that link!

    “Commonly know as Bobbit Worm, the reason why he got this lovely name is due to the fact that the female worm attacks the male penis and feeds it to her young after mating…”

  17. #17 scarygirl
    April 3, 2009

    12-foot what now?!

  18. #18 William Gulvin
    April 3, 2009

    Well, the “Bobbitt” reference may be apocryphal, but its jaws sure aren’t, and no doubt could do the job! Careful! Here’s a link to a prettier portrait:
    http://tinyurl.com/cb9gtk

  19. #19 Don Smith, FCD
    April 3, 2009

    Polychaetes Rule!

    Though no one ever mentioned the 4′ long bit. I was under the impression they were like 6″ or so.

  20. #20 amplexus
    April 3, 2009

    that’s one badass annelid. This is an amazing story.

    Commonly know as Bobbit Worm, the reason why he got this lovely name is due to the fact that the female worm attacks the male penis and feeds it to her young after mating…”

    *cringes* I thought freud’s casturation anxiety “vagnae dentata” was bad

  21. #21 Brian
    April 3, 2009

    I am not following any URLs on this thread.

    Nope nope nope.

  22. #22 Don Smith, FCD
    April 3, 2009

    You’d think a professional aquarium would know about quarantine tanks…

  23. #23 Eric T
    April 3, 2009

    That has got to be coolest story sea worm I’ve seen in a while and I too would pay money to see it. How close is it to London as we may be traveling to the UK in a year or two.

  24. #24 Ciaphas
    April 3, 2009

    I was starting to nod off at work when I came to this thread. I’m awake now. Thank you.

  25. #25 jeff s
    April 3, 2009

    This thing frigthens me. I can handle any kind of animal or bug or whatever except for things that are long and slimey (take that however you will.)

    The fact that it has a ton of “legs” and could bite off pieces of my body only multiplys the terror I am feeling.

    I can’t even handle silver fish.

  26. #26 Ron Sullivan
    April 3, 2009

    Aw shit. I’m gonna be awake all night from the drugs anyway.

    I hope.

  27. #27 donna
    April 3, 2009

    JEFF!!! Back to the subway!

  28. #28 Charlie Norton
    April 3, 2009

    Pretty cool, really. Wouldn’t want to be touching him though, “permanent numbness” doesn’t sound too pleasant.

  29. #29 Matt L.
    April 3, 2009

    Surprisingly, these stories are not isolated in the marine aquarium hobby. Polychaete hitchhikers are ubiquitous, although they are (thankfully) usually the 2in. variety (commonly referred to as bristle worms).

    This guy in Oregon was 8ft:
    http://www.oregonreef.com/sub_worm.htm

  30. #30 JAMSHED MOIDU
    April 3, 2009

    all praise to the supreme creator…supreme artist…god almighty

  31. #31 Owlmirror
    April 3, 2009

    Well, someone has to say it…

    All things dull and ugly,
    All creatures short and squat,
    All things rude and nasty,
    The Lord God made the lot.
    Each little snake that poisons,
    Each little wasp that stings,
    He made their brutish venom.
    He made their horrid wings.

    All things sick and cancerous,
    All evil great and small,
    All things foul and dangerous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Each nasty little hornet,
    Each beastly little squid–
    Who made the spikey urchin?
    Who made the sharks? He did!

    All things scabbed and ulcerous,
    All pox both great and small,
    Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Amen.

  32. #32 IBY
    April 3, 2009

    Holy crap, that is big!

  33. #33 Jim
    April 3, 2009

    Seconding the comment about nightmare fuel.

  34. #34 David
    April 3, 2009

    I think that if Intelligent Design theories held any water you could safely postulate Satan’s existence because of this thing. Here’s a video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkUSx6aQGXU

    How can it be that fast!! Evolution really is remarkable process.

  35. #35 Bone Oboe
    April 3, 2009

    “No Cartman! What marches in, crawls up your leg and bites the inside of your ass?!?”

    Verily, I nominate this thing as Cartman’s Audacious Ass Biter. It’s even got a bit of “rainbow” iridescence on the head it seems.

  36. #36 Charlie Foxtrot
    April 3, 2009

    Great, so now the day after “Cthulhu Day” can be known as “Polychaete Day”

    Nightmares from the dreaming darkness below, indeed.

  37. #37 RamziD
    April 3, 2009

    If I could find the guy who started this story I would be tempted to do a Lorena Bobbit myself! Polychaete worms don’t have penises, males & females rarely even meet, the eggs & sperm are emitted into the water where they join for fertilization, and there’s no parental care whatsoever. So the story is a total fabrication.

    This was a response on the blogpost linked in #14. If you search google, you will find that worms from the family eunicidae reproduce just like the poster said. The only time the penis-eating story is mentioned if you do a google search is on a blog or discussion forum. It looks like this is probably just a made up story, unless this particular eunicid mates differently. It’s more likely the common name of “bobbit worm” is due to the fact that this species has such powerful jaws and strikes so quickly that it often slices it’s prey in half.

  38. #38 Jim
    April 3, 2009

    Ok, seriously now – what would happen if this happy fellow squared off with a mantis shrimp?

  39. #39 Roland
    April 3, 2009

    Though I did feel a bit dirty clicking on a link to the (ugh) Daily Mail’s website

  40. #40 Mimisbrunnr
    April 3, 2009

    Does anyone know the species of the worm?

  41. #41 cactusren
    April 3, 2009

    Ok, maybe this is just because I’m an inlander and very rarely swim in the ocean, but I don’t see the nightmare fuel here. I’m truly fascinated, however, that this worm managed to grow so large before being discovered. I’m always intrigued at the ways in which animals hitch-hike, however unintentionally, to new locations.

  42. #42 Chris Davis
    April 3, 2009

    Oh, lawdy – imagine what its arse looks like…

  43. #43 astrounit
    April 3, 2009

    He’s ADORABLE.

    The apparatus at the business end…whoa. If that’s a “face”, that mazard is completely devoted.

    I swoon. Leaves me reflecting on the importance and diversity of the input orifice. Just how many ways of munching (like uppity fish) can there be? And this guy drills through coral, bites through 20lb test, and apparently ATE the trap with bait full of HOOKS? Then he’s covered with thousands of tiny toxic bristles that inflict “permanent numbness” on top of that?

    And the size. No wonder Barry the Beastworm was Master of his realm. He’s all business. Beauty isn’t irrelevant in that, and it doesn’t hurt that he exhibits a fine contrasting counter-example for our conceited tastes to contemplate.

    While we’re at it we should, of course, keep in mind we’re related to this guy. I don’t mean by direct lineage (which we aren’t) and not even by having a common ancestor (which we do) but just because he and we happen to be co-habiting organisms making our respective livings, and we’ve got the same biochemistry in common that led to us both. He’s one of us.

    We’ll need to get over our squeamishness and revulsion before we begin to encounter NON-Earthlings, or we’ll fall completely to pieces.

  44. #44 Sili
    April 3, 2009

    Why is this not an April Fool joke?

    :whimper:

  45. #45 H.H.
    April 3, 2009

    While I am creeped out by the fact that this little bugger is covered in armor, poison spikes and mandibles that can chew through rock, I think I’m more pissed that I’m not. It’s not fair having to go through life as a soft, pink, squishy ape! Give me acid for blood or something.

  46. #46 Colin
    April 3, 2009

    I’m with astrounit. What an excellent creature. I’m just sad the one in Oregon (#30) got deaded. Why not raise them and see how big they get? Like pumpkins, but less boring.

  47. #47 Zor
    April 3, 2009

    A comment from the Daily Fail article:

    “It’s gross, they should get rid of it permanently. What possible use is its existence? none, I suspect.”

    What more can you expect from the readers of that odious publication?

    I’m thirding astrounit: an incredibly interesting creature that provokes all kinds of thoughts about our place in the natural order.

  48. #48 Ted Dahlberg
    April 3, 2009

    Dammit! I dreamed about Cthulhu after the Cthulhu Day post yesterday (a stuffed toy Cthulhu admittedly, but very creepy nonetheless especially when it started chanting in some dead language while it floated around looking for me), I don’t even want to imagine what sorts of dreams this will give me!

  49. #49 SEF
    April 3, 2009

    That’s a whole lot of worm (in the Daily Fail picture)!

  50. #50 Michael
    April 3, 2009

    Wow, where can I get an polychaete worm for my tank! Those are so cool!

  51. #51 Sam C
    April 3, 2009

    One of the comments on the Daily Mail site:

    It’s gross, they should get rid of it permanently. What possible use is its existence? none, I suspect.

    Strange, I was wondering the same about Daily Mail readers!

    Although, perhaps I can think of a use for them now… a tank full of Barry the Bastard worms would need a lot of food… and while Barry the Bastard v. a mantis shrimp would be interesting, a diet of Daily Mail readers would be excitingly gory!

  52. #52 Brasidas
    April 3, 2009

    EricT @ #24

    Newquay is in sunny Cornwall and is about 220 miles from London.

  53. #53 arekksu
    April 3, 2009

    o goddammit, i’m reading that worm first thing in the morning, having just woken up from having already had a nightmare about it, that’s how fucking scary it is.

  54. #54 Mick
    April 3, 2009

    It’s gorgeous! I want one.

  55. #55 catta
    April 3, 2009

    Oh yes, the comments. They can be divided into three parts, like gaul: people saying “kill the foreigner ugly animal”, the opposing “it’s god’s creature and therefore lovely”, and of course the “clever” jokes somehow connecting poor ol’Barry to the Labour party. Plus one lonely guy who just can’t resist saying “I’d eat that”, because, hey, everything aquatic is seafood – and yet narrowly escapes phrasing it in the time-honored “with a little lemon butter”-way.

    If the url and logo weren’t visible, you’d still know which paper it is…

  56. #56 James F
    April 3, 2009

    THE CONQUEROR WORM

    by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

    LO! ‘t is a gala night ?
    Within the lonesome latter years! ?
    An angel throng, bewinged, bedight ?
    In veils, and drowned in tears, ?
    Sit in a theatre, to see ?
    A play of hopes and fears, ?
    While the orchestra breathes fitfully ?
    The music of the spheres.

    Mimes, in the form of God on high, ?
    Mutter and mumble low, ?
    And hither and thither fly? ?
    Mere puppets they, who come and go ?
    At bidding of vast formless things ?
    That shift the scenery to and fro, ?
    Flapping from out their Condor wings ?
    Invisible Woe!

    That motley drama!?oh, be sure ?
    It shall not be forgot! ?
    With its Phantom chased for evermore, ?
    By a crowd that seize it not, ?
    Through a circle that ever returneth in ?
    To the self-same spot, ?
    And much of Madness, and more of Sin ?
    And Horror the soul of the plot.

    But see, amid the mimic rout, ?
    A crawling shape intrude! ?
    A blood-red thing that writhes from out ?
    The scenic solitude! ?
    It writhes!?it writhes!?with mortal pangs ?
    The mimes become its food, ?
    And the angels sob at vermin fangs ?
    In human gore imbued.

    Out?out are the lights?out all! ?
    And over each quivering form, ?
    The curtain, a funeral pall, ?
    Comes down with the rush of a storm, ?
    And the angels, all pallid and wan, ?
    Uprising, unveiling, affirm ?
    That the play is the tragedy “Man,” ?
    And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

  57. #57 NoXion
    April 3, 2009

    With regards to astrounit’s post @ #44:

    If we ever do meet aliens, they’ll look a lot like our wormish friend Barry here, rather than Mr Spock. Myself, I’d certainly be willing to sit down to dinner with such a creature and discuss interspecies philosophy.

    Preferably at the other end of the table.

  58. #58 Thusled
    April 3, 2009

    No.

    NO.

    That is not allowed to exist.

    Curse you, PZ, I’ll be seeing that in my nightmares. It will be the thing eating all of the Cambrian Fauna that used to be in my nightmares.

    @NoXion #58: That’s an odd conclusion to jump to. How can we know what they’d look like without knowing the environment they evolved in?

  59. #59 Josh
    April 3, 2009

    “FATHER! THE SLEEPER HAS AWAKENED!”

    That thing is awesome.

  60. #60 Matt
    April 3, 2009

    As someone who has taken down about 500 pounds worth of rock so my 1.5 foot bamboo shark (not an “active” species like the black tips) wouldn’t fall prey to a mantis shrimp, I can understand their concern. Cleaning out a tank like that is like exploring the outer reaches of space. With salt water tanks you can toss 5 rocks in a tank with water flow and in a few days an entire ecosystem has formed (or at least the foundation for a food chain). I have had everything from corals to crabs hitch rides on live rock, the majority of it was harmless and just super cool to get a free “thing” from the tight assed fish store owner.

  61. #61 Stephen Wells
    April 3, 2009

    Can we get a plush version? I have small nephews to scare.

  62. #62 Stagyar zil Doggo
    April 3, 2009

    Polychaete worms don’t have penises, males & females rarely even meet, the eggs & sperm are emitted into the water where they join for fertilization, and there’s no parental care whatsoever.

    I was wondering where it kept the detached penis while waiting for the young’uns to hatch. Still the Bobbit narrative has a sort of macabre efficiency to it. Kind of in a “Honey, now that we’re done, you won’t be needing that anymore. So, why don’t I just hold on to it for the children” way. Oh! won’t anybody think of the children.

  63. #63 c-law
    April 3, 2009

    it’s the twisted offspring of dungeons and dragons’ “purple worm” and the “carrion crawler”!

    \all hail the purple worm!

  64. #64 Fernando Magyar
    April 3, 2009

    If correct then Barry (the worm has a name?) was just a little baby or stunted from living in captivity. Apparently they can supposedly reach 6m in length (that’s like close to 20 ft long). They must also have some interesting digestive juices…

    From the article:

    That worm must have obliterated the traps. The bait was full of hooks which he must have just digested.’

    http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/worm/polychaeta/giant.htm

    Eunicid worms are commonly encountered on all our shores. They range from tiny ones only 1cm or shorter but include some of the longest polychaetes. Some members of Family Eunicidae can reach 6m with more than a thousand segments!

  65. #65 Ranson
    April 3, 2009

    First thing I thought was “Chthonian!”

    This place is going all Lovecraft, all the time.

  66. #66 Diego
    April 3, 2009

    With it being the week of April Fool’s my first thought was that the 4 ft long polychaete was a bit of an exaggeration, but it was posted on March 31st. So color me impressed.

  67. #67 Carlie
    April 3, 2009

    Eh, all kinds of animals get their penis ripped off during sex. Nothing special there.

    What creeps me out is that they had a four-foot long predator in the tank and had no idea it was there. Barry the worm, master of disguise.

  68. #68 Julie Stahlhut
    April 3, 2009

    Awwww, what a cutie!

    Permanent numbness? Any chance I could get one of these things to sting me on the parts of my fingers that always get hit with a hammer when I’m trying to fix something?

  69. #69 Gra
    April 3, 2009

    Proof god exists! Just look around you! Look at the birds and the flowers… and the polychaete worms!

  70. #70 Donnie B.
    April 3, 2009

    It’s Karmic justice, really. How long have we been digging up worms and sticking them on hooks to catch fish?

    Now the shoe’s on the other… um, segment.

  71. #71 Anon
    April 3, 2009

    Through some quirk of overlapping windows, This worm’s face, a moment or so ago, appeared to be accompanying a story about Jenny McCarthy’s pro-measles movement.

    I just wanted to apologize publicly to the worm for that.

  72. #72 Dahan
    April 3, 2009

    I see someone made this comment concerning it:

    “It’s gross, they should get rid of it permanently. What possible use is its existence? none, I suspect.”

    So if we find something we find ugly and we humans can’t exploit it for some purpose, we should just kill it? WTF is that all about! What an epic fail.

  73. #73 MadScientist
    April 3, 2009

    Was this the inspiration for the worms in ‘Dune’?

    What’s this thing about causing permanent numbness? I want to see some references.

  74. #74 Lorkas
    April 3, 2009

    “stinging tentacles? Doesn’t look cnidarian to me…what species is that vile thing?”

    Many species of polychaete worms have stinging bristles. Ever heard of a fireworm?

  75. #75 Stagyar zil Doggo
    April 3, 2009

    … Permanent numbness …

    Anyone care to expound on the neuroscientific mechanism for how this works? Could/Does it have medical applications a la Botox?

  76. #76 James F
    April 3, 2009

    Could/Does it have medical applications a la Botox?

    Now hold still, please, while we bring in Barry….

  77. #77 Lorkas
    April 3, 2009

    I’m guessing it just kills the local nerve cells. That would be the easiest way to inflict permanent (semi-permanent, perhaps) numbness in a local area.

  78. #78 Lilly de Lure
    April 3, 2009
    Could/Does it have medical applications a la Botox?

    Now hold still, please, while we bring in Barry….

    Given her fondness for botox, as opposed to her terror of all those nasty “unnatural” toxins this should be right up Jenny McCarty’s street.

  79. #79 Bitchfinder General
    April 3, 2009

    re: the vacuous Mail reader who commented “It’s gross, they should get rid of it permanently. What possible use is its existence? none, I suspect.”

    I responded with my own comment that I personally found the creature fascinating, certainly more so than random_fish_01 and that I couldn’t see why anyone would feel the need to impose some made-up idea of a purpose onto a creature so as to justify it’s existence.

    My post appears to have been deleted by the Mail admins as I was unable to find it a couple of hours later. I suppose I should have known better and posted something Mail readers would find worth reading, like ‘LOL Barry?! Shoulda called it Gordon Brown AMIRITE??!?!’

  80. #80 Stagyar zil Doggo
    April 3, 2009

    Now hold still, please, while we bring in Barry….

    Umm, … No! Despite its alleged apocryphalness, I am yet to get over the Bobbitizing version of the story.

  81. #81 Kathy
    April 3, 2009

    Blech.

    Last fall, I took a volunteer job helping examine the contents of fish stomachs; lots and lots of polychaetes. Even half-digested, they were nasty things.

    *shudder*

    Yet another reason I’m not a marine biologist.

  82. #82 sharky
    April 3, 2009

    As a bold lover of unhuggables who has captured spiders in glasses since childhood and studied millipedes up close to see their patterning, I have to say: AAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUIIIIIGHH!!!!!

  83. #83 blueelm
    April 3, 2009

    So weird. At the risk of sounding like a complete freak because I’m not even a biologist, I had a dream about polychaete worms last night. In fact, we were talking about them in great detail in my dream. I woke up thinking, “what a weird thing to dream about.” Why? I’ll never know, but it makes todays post really really funny to me!

  84. #84 NoAstronomer
    April 3, 2009

    Given her fondness for botox, as opposed to her terror of all those nasty “unnatural” toxins this should be right up Jenny McCarty’s street.

    Not the word I would have used, but ‘street’ works too.

  85. #85 Notagod
    April 3, 2009

    I can love that worm from a natural evolutionary perspective. It is further evidence that the christian god idea is false. A god thing would have to be one sick creature to think of but, to create that worm would surely be christ-a-loon. For it to have evolved naturally, as it surely did, is beautiful though.

  86. #86 janeothejungle
    April 3, 2009

    Eunice?? Is that you?? Palola’s cousin is vacationing in the UK?? Oh marvelous fantastical beastie!!

    Oh Nature in all her glory! Eunice – coming soon to an ocean near you…..
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wildsingapore/443037900/

  87. Apparently, I am now officially a sicko. Why, you may ask? Because, upon gazing at that worm, my first thought was, “Oh. A French tickler.” I scrolled though 83 (count ‘em 83) comments. No one else went positive sexual with it. No one. Lots of negative sexual comments a la Bobbit, but positive? No.

    Here I am, a public historian (labour and industrial history), one of the supposedly ‘normal’ people (ie not a scientist), trying to expand my knowledge of the natural world, and I find out ya’ll are normal, not me.

    Interesting looking worm, though. Must be one hell of a bottle of tequila.

  88. #88 Flori-DUH Rob
    April 3, 2009

    That must have been a bitch for Noah to take care of.

  89. #89 Menyambal
    April 3, 2009

    Yay! Something that wasn’t made for our use or appreciation in any way. God made that = God is bonkers.

  90. #90 Louis
    April 3, 2009

    This thing is SO like my penis! Tentacles, segmented, stingers that cause numbness, four foot long….

    Hmmm. Ok this thing is NOTHING like my penis.

    But seriously, I’ve noticed that PZ is getting sent/putting up lots of links to the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. Does he know what those papers represent here in the UK? I’m surprised that, as this polychaete worm is not a native species to the UK, that the Daily Mail headline associated with that story wasn’t something like “Immigrant Worm Murder Rampage. House Prices in Torquay Area Lowered”.

    Louis

  91. #91 Carlie
    April 3, 2009

    A student of mine made a good observation – if true that the stings cause permanent numbness, wouldn’t it be a potential research field for managing chronic pain? Or managing certain types of acute pain, too, such as amputation sites.

  92. #92 Louis
    April 3, 2009

    Billy @ ’87,

    I too thought “French Tickler” (not first thought, but in the top five), however I decided that it was far too offensive to make such a comment. I stuck to comparing it to my penis, which if of course much less offensive…..

    ….wait, erm, did I make a booboo?

    Louis

  93. Louis @90:

    Of course, if it was four feet long, the tentacle stingery thingies which produce numbness would be an advantage for your mate.

  94. #94 debaser
    April 3, 2009

    #46

    Raising them would be sweet. Just imagine the sex appeal. “Hey babe, I don’t wanna brag or nothin, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got the biggest worm you’ll ever want to see. Come back to my place and I’ll let you feed it…”

  95. #95 Dahan
    April 3, 2009

    Bitchfinder General @79,

    I made a comment as well, similar to yours in vein it appears. Mine appears to have been shitcanned as well.

  96. #96 Louis
    April 3, 2009

    Billy @ #93,

    “Advantage”? Perhaps temporarily. Sometimes pain tells us useful information…

    And we’ve gone very rapidly to a dark and unpleasant place. I vote for running away from it equally rapidly.

    I used to keep snakes (and spiders, and frogs and lizards etc), loved the damned things. I had to sell them on (they all found happy homes you’ll be glad to note) because of the effort involved in properly housing/caring for them. To be honest this thing looks like a potentially cool pet, but if it’s a very active, far ranging organism I wouldn’t keep one. The mistake of keeping active, very mobile creature in terraria (no matter how lovely), or in this case aquaria, is not one I’ll make again. However, that said, royal pythons love a nice small terrarium, maybe this beastie likes a little hole to curl up in with a nice fish….

    Louis

  97. #97 hje
    April 3, 2009

    My pitch to the Sci-Fi Channel: “… and then aquarium workers began to disappear, one by one.”

  98. #98 Pat
    April 3, 2009

    Is this the new face of the Republican Party? (Wait, I guess that’s insulting the worm…)

  99. #99 June
    April 3, 2009

    So, you think a crummy 4 foot worm in an aquarium is scary?
    You want scary? Go visit Carl Zimmer’s blog at http://scienceblogs.com/loom/

    You want more scary? Read Zimmer’s “Parasite Rex”, with a picture of a 60 footer that lives in the human gut.

  100. #100 rnb
    April 3, 2009

    Just when you think it’s safe to go in the water…..You can’t get there!

    There already was a movie made about these things, or something similar.

  101. #101 NoAstronomer
    April 3, 2009

    @Billy the Atheist #87: I’m sure I don’t know what you mean by ‘positive sexual’. You are obviously a sicko.

    @rnb : Are you thinking about ‘Deep Rising’, with Treat Williams, which is a hilariously awful movie.

  102. #102 tms
    April 3, 2009

    Barry reminds me of the large Neries worms we have here in Puget Sound. They can range to 3m long and can be found swimming near the surface on summer nights in the spawning season.
    More than one inebriated fisherman has tried to catch one with a landing net, only to be terrified to the point of sobriety when the body ruptures at every segment to release the reproductive products.

  103. #103 OhioBrian
    April 3, 2009

    I have long believed in the innate worth of every living thing . . . right up until I saw the full-body photo of this abomination before FSM.

    KILL IT. KILL IT WITH FIRE.

    Then make the dreams stop.

  104. #104 MS
    April 3, 2009

    Yeesh, it looks like one of those tube-y things coming out of the swamp in the most recent version of King Kong. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

  105. #105 rnb
    April 3, 2009

    NoAstronomer
    I think the name of the movie was Blood Beach. Another bad one.

  106. #106 Darren Garrison
    April 3, 2009

    Thinking of this cool aquarium invader made me think of another cool aquarium invader, the mantis shrimp. Which led to Youtube browsing. Which lead to this:

    Mantis shrimp vs. another shrimp. The other shrimp cuts off one of it’s own arms and hands it to the mantis shrimp in an attempt to get away.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG2tvepHN2A

  107. #107 Darren Garrison
    April 3, 2009

    Thinking of this cool aquarium invader made me think of another cool aquarium invader, the mantis shrimp. Which led to Youtube browsing. Which lead to this:

    Mantis shrimp vs. another shrimp. The other shrimp cuts off one of it’s own arms and hands it to the mantis shrimp in an attempt to get away.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG2tvepHN2A

  108. #108 Yarcofin
    April 3, 2009

    How does a giant 4′ long worm end up in a tank without someone knowing? Did it start as a parasite on a fish they brought in, or what?

  109. #109 Bill Dauphin
    April 3, 2009

    donna (@27):

    JEFF!!! Back to the subway!

    ROFL! But my mind went in the same direction as MadScientist’s (@73): Not to MIB but to Dune (et seq.).

  110. #110 Rick mcwilliams
    April 3, 2009

    I had a personal experience with a much smaller polychete worm. It was summer at Catalina island. I dive with a small pony tank on a cumerbund pack. I free dive down, look around, when I find something interesting I go on air. Some lobsters needed further investigation. I grabbed the regulator and happened to look at it before putting it in my mouth. Arrgh… there was a bristling polychete worm right in the mouthpiece. An air purge chased him out. I breathed with shallow breaths to the suface in case he had a friend deeper inside the regulator.

  111. #111 tom
    April 3, 2009

    What seems to be lacking here is a recognition that the existence this creature is an argument against evilution. This thing is perfectly suited to survive anything. If evilution were true, we’d all be just like this worm, because it’s way cooler than us.

  112. #112 JustaTech
    April 3, 2009

    H.H.: You get a gun, be happy. Now you’ll have to excuse me while I re-arrange the chairs in my lab so I can leap onto the lab bench without touching the floor from my desk. (Yes, I’m sure they can’t go anywhere on land. Still.)

    Rick McWilliams: I’m never going diving. In your mouth…

    AAAHHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAHHHHHH!

  113. #113 Bad
    April 3, 2009

    “How does a giant 4′ long worm end up in a tank without someone knowing? Did it start as a parasite on a fish they brought in, or what?”

    Most reefkeepers now use live rock as biological filters: i.e. real reef rock, complete with all sorts of hitchhiking organisms in it. Most are beneficial detrivores that are part of the value of having live rock (pods, mini-brittles). But there are a few truly bad and scary hitchhikers like this guy, mantis shrimp, and so on that come as tiny juveniles on the rock but then grow into monsters. They combine speed (making them very hard to catch or trap) with an ability to kill just about anything on the reef.

  114. #114 Bad
    April 3, 2009

    “How does a giant 4′ long worm end up in a tank without someone knowing? Did it start as a parasite on a fish they brought in, or what?”

    Most reefkeepers now use live rock as biological filters: i.e. real reef rock, complete with all sorts of hitchhiking organisms in it. Most are beneficial detrivores that are part of the value of having live rock (pods, mini-brittles). But there are a few truly bad and scary hitchhikers like this guy, mantis shrimp, and so on that come as tiny juveniles on the rock but then grow into monsters. They combine speed (making them very hard to catch or trap) with an ability to kill just about anything on the reef.

  115. #115 Bad
    April 3, 2009

    “How does a giant 4′ long worm end up in a tank without someone knowing? Did it start as a parasite on a fish they brought in, or what?”

    Most reefkeepers now use live rock as biological filters: i.e. real reef rock, complete with all sorts of hitchhiking organisms in it. Most are beneficial detrivores that are part of the value of having live rock (pods, mini-brittles). But there are a few truly bad and scary hitchhikers like this guy, mantis shrimp, and so on that come as tiny juveniles on the rock but then grow into monsters. They combine speed (making them very hard to catch or trap) with an ability to kill just about anything on the reef.

  116. #116 Bad
    April 3, 2009

    Oh bother. Stupid timeouts

  117. #117 ratonarat
    April 3, 2009

    @ Derrick Apr02,11:36

    Regarding its venom, I was wondering if it utilises the same trick that nudibranches, also polychaetes, do when absorbing the poisonous cnidocytes from the jellyfish they feed on.
    Except with this group of polychaetes it would obtain them from the soft corals it eats.
    If this is the case than this would be quite interesting as I was under the impression that only nudibranches that fed on jellyfish could do this.

  118. #118 John Phillips, FCD
    April 3, 2009

    Erit T, London to Newquay ~6 hours driving within the speed limit or ~5 hours by train from Paddington Station.

  119. #119 ewwwww
    April 3, 2009

    You put up the wrong pic, the other one is great for full horrific effect. That is the creepiest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on( nest to mr. farwell, of course) .

  120. #120 Medusa
    April 3, 2009

    #31: Great parody! Yes, aren’t all God’s creatures wonderful!
    This thing is downright Lovecraft. But I doubt even he could have imagined such a creature.

  121. #122 the pro from dover
    April 3, 2009

    The better scary worm movie is “Tremors”.

  122. #123 Bone Oboe
    April 3, 2009

    @ The the pro from dover.

    No way. The Sand Worm from Dune would have Tremors Worm’s ass ‘a la mode all the way back to that little hell hole in the middle of nowhere.

    “Fanboy With No Life” moment over, for now.

    Signing off.

  123. #124 Alan B
    April 3, 2009

    Still not sure that it isn’t an April Fool stunt.

    A few of us in the UK remember fondly the (black and white) BBC documentary in 1957 where we were introduced to the wonderful spaghetti tree harvest in Switzerland that year. Because it was the BBC and the voice over was by the late, great Richard Dimbleby a huge number thought it was genuine.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEPRbcFoLzs

  124. #125 Bryn
    April 3, 2009

    I had to laugh at a comment on the site where the article originated. Someone named Sarah wanted to know what use it was and opined that it probably didn’t have one so just get rid of it. I refrained from saying that the same could probably be said about commenters named Sarah. Ahem.

    I think he’s fascinating–poisonous prickles and all.

  125. #126 Nanu Nanu
    April 3, 2009

    the pro from dover, Bone Oboe:

    Oh my Athe I actually started to research Graboids vs. Sandworms preparing to argue my point before I came back to my senses.

  126. #127 gsenski
    April 3, 2009

    Looks like the kind of critter that would attack Tokyo.

  127. #128 wagonjak
    April 3, 2009

    This worm wasn’t named after the Americanized version of our President Barack, was it?

    If so, it may be a not so subtle comment by a right-wing aquarium crowd to comment on the socialistic impulses of our new president? Hey?

    Eating all the tiny fish and fish homes in the tank until it is the only beast left?

    Or am I just showing my paranoia?

  128. #129 Bone Oboe
    April 3, 2009

    Nanu Nanu, I was really joking, having a sarcgasm…. I have read, and will continue to read the Dune books. I suppose I should have added some sort of winky-emoti-thing, somewhere near the “Fanboy” part.

    Mork calling Orson, come in Orson.

    Now I just have to pray that I can keep from thinking about the Worm Of Death when I get to the Thai food joint.

  129. #130 Sarmatae
    April 3, 2009

    I recognized this species as soon as I laid eyes on it. It’s a space Herpie!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-me2inj1nNw

  130. #131 Qweenie
    April 3, 2009

    Looks like a juvenile Australian beach-worm, Family Eunicidae, Genus Eunice. Seems they live forever and just keep getting bigger and bigger. There are reports of 10-metre worms out there!

  131. #132 Carlie
    April 3, 2009

    What about the giant worm that almost ate the Millennium Falcon?

  132. #133 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 3, 2009

    What about the giant worm that almost ate the Millennium Falcon?

    Must have been a distant cousin of Barry many times removed. :-)

  133. #134 Bone Oboe
    April 3, 2009

    What about the giant worm that almost ate the Millennium Falcon?

    Oh yeah, I forgot about him. He was probably big enough to eat a spice harvester whole.

  134. #135 YetAnotherKevin
    April 4, 2009

    So… What animal eats these worms?

  135. #136 eddie
    April 4, 2009

    Re Tom @111;
    To paraphrase Heinlein; specialisation is for worms.
    For horror beastie fans, check out Tingler. It’s in b&w as it is quite old, but very cool monster.

    When I first saw Barry, I thought it was a millipede, but those ‘legs’ aren’t jointed like an arthropod. I didn’t think worms could make hard tissue but what about those mouthparts?

  136. #137 Monado
    April 5, 2009

    It was eating the _reef_???

  137. #138 Rev. Barky
    April 6, 2009

    Why didn’t they just put a camera on the tank?

    Well, the “tingler” bears a striking resemblance to the transmogrified Mujahedin typewriter sex creature in The Naked Lunch.

  138. #139 Sven DiMilo
    April 6, 2009

    Annelid worms–like this polychaete–do have “hard parts,” made of chitin (same stuff the exoskeleton of arthropods is made of). Even earthworms (oligochaetes) have chitinous bristles.

  139. #140 Sven DiMilo
    April 6, 2009

    nudibranches, also polychaetes

    Nope–nudibranchs are gastropod mollusks; polychaetes are annelids. Different (though related) phyla.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.