Scientists Find Living Specimen of Legendary Sulfur-Eating Giant Shipworm

Scientists Find Living Specimen of Legendary Sulfur-Eating Giant Shipworm

The truth behind the centuries-old legend of the giant shipworm has finally been confirmed by scientists, who got up close and personal with the elusive, sulfur-feasting creature for the first time.

A team of international researchers examined the first living giant shipworm in the Philippines, throwing some light on the mysterious Kuphus polythalamia species – the longest bivalve mollusc in the world, reaching up to 5 feet (1.52 meters) in length.

The bizarre-looking animal, encased in a tusk-like shell, may be the stuff of nightmares for many, but its discovery offers scientists a unique opportunity to unravel the secrets of the rare specimen.

“The shells are fairly common, but we have never had access to the animal living inside,” lead investigator and director of the Ocean Genome Legacy Center at Northeastern University, Daniel Distel said.

“Being present for the first encounter of an animal like this is the closest I will ever get to being a 19th-century naturalist,”said Margo Haygood, study author and research professor in medicinal chemistry at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy.

 

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