Science News

Australia’s Eastern Abyss Has A Penis-Shaped Worm, Among Other Strange Creatures

Photo from Rob Zugaro/CSIRO/Museums Victoria

The Eastern Abyss off the coast of Australia continues to yield strange-looking creatures. After the faceless fish a few weeks ago, the next thing interesting thing to come out of the research voyage down those depths is a phallic-looking “peanut worm.”

Shaped distinctively like human male genitalia, this peanut worm should not be confused with the penis worm, despite its appearance, News.com.au reports. The researchers said, “When threatened they can contract their long head inward and more resemble a peanut.” In addition, this worm can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

The discovery was made by an international team of 58 scientists aboard the exploration vessel Investigator that has been on the trip for a month. Tim O’Hara, Chief scientist and senior curator of the Marine Invertebrates from Museums Victoria, said that the aim of the expedition is to locate and identify Australian sea creatures that have never been seen before.

“Australia’s deep-sea environment is larger in size than the mainland, and until now, almost nothing was known about life on the abyssal plain,” O’Hara told National Geographic.

We’re really excited about the discoveries that we’ve made and are thrilled that we can now share them with the Australian and international public.

Aside from the penis-shaped worm, the team found more bizarre animals, such as giant sea spiders, carnivorous sponges, zombie worms, bioluminescent sharks, octopus with ears, sea pigs, and the iconic abyssal fishes or spiderfishes. There’s even a Game of Thrones brittle star that really does resemble the crown from the popular HBO show.

The creatures that live in the abyss are almost all strange, because of the unusual environment they live in. The water above the abyss put intense pressure on the area, so animals living there don’t have air pockets to prevent rupturing. Shells or gelatinous forms are not uncommon, neither is bioluminescence as a way of coping with the dark depths.

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