Friday, 2 September 2011

Pigbutt Worm

Tail end
A handsome pair of pert buttocks. On a list of what you might expect to see through your camera as it descends thousands of feet beneath the waves, a disembodied bum is probably quite low. Maybe even right near the end. The END? Hahaaaa! I made a funny!

The Pigbutt Worm is an annelid worm. Unfortunately it's about the size of a hazelnut, so loving caresses and life-sized Greco-Roman sculpture won't be so impressive. But let's not make an ass of ourselves with unreasonable expectations of what a floating rear-end in the sea is supposed to be like. We must appreciate these buttocks on their own terms.

As we can see, are unable to ignore and will probably remember forever, the middle segments of the Pigbutt's body are greatly inflated. This pushes the other segments aside and creates those circles on the ballooning surface. More importantly, it allows them to float around some 900 to 1,200 metres (3,000 to 4,000 feet) beneath the surface of the sea. They stay at this depth even when the actual sea floor is thousands of metres deeper still.

This fact is part of what makes the Pigbutt Worm so mysterious. Oh, yes! These buttocks are buttocks that require thought, attention and warrant a really close look. Maybe even a prod. Pinch?

Front end, showing mouth
You see, the Pigbutt Worm is in the Chaetopteridae family. This is composed of worms who live in tunnels on the sea floor. They filter their food by placing a mucus net near the top of their tube and using it to capture plankton to eat.

Aside from the inflated bit in the middle (the actual butt), the Pigbutt actually looks like a larval form of these other worms. But it's 5 to 10 times bigger than any other known. So, maybe it's an adult?

But then none of the Pigbutts that have been captured had any sexual organs. So maybe it's not an adult?

But if it's not an adult and is more like a really gigantic Chaetopterid worm, shouldn't they be making their way to the sea floor and not floating thousands of feet above it?

Scientists even put the Pigbutt in a tank with an appropriate substrate at the buttock. Sorry, bottom. But the Pigbutt wasn't interested, they were fine with their floating.

They've also been spotted with a cloud of mucus surrounding their mouth. Probably not in dreadful need of tissue paper, they were more likely filtering out food from the marine snow as it drifts through the depths. It's a strategy that's similar not only to other Chaetopterid worms, but also to our very own Sea Butterfly.

All in all, the Pigbutt Worm seems to be almost as mysterious and unexplained as an actual disembodied rump pleasantly floating and flying about the place.

It could well be that, like the Squidworm, the Pigbutt has discovered an absurd solution to the question of how a worm makes it's life far above ground. Let me congratulate and thank the Pigbutt for their extravagantly weird looking success! Somehow the deep sea appears to be that much more friendly a place.

11 comments:

Emily said...

I've never seen the head end of this creature. It's kinda cute, and disgusting at the same time.

Comment1 said...

Yeh, it sort of looks like it has big, soft lips!

TexWisGirl said...

in a constant state of mooning. total weirdness, as usual...

Comment1 said...

"constant state of mooning" hahahaha!

Crunchy said...

Our poor callipygian friend must be the butt of so many jokes.

It reminds me of why I love science. Not because I'm a fan of pig butts, but I'm a fan of scientists who aren't afraid to call it like they see it. Same with the Venus Flytrap, all those phallic mushrooms, and of course the Greater Northern Flatulencebeast.

Comment1 said...

Ooo, wow. I've added callipygian to my list of words to use as soon as reasonably possible.

I might have to start up a whole new list to put the Greater Northern Flatulencebeast onto.

Kali said...

Yeah, you've got to love a language that has a special word to describe having beautiful buttocks! Did you know there's another variant of it? Callipygous! Soft 'g' or hard? Perhaps it depends on the nature of the butt...

Comment1 said...

Hahaha! I got to try that one! I can imagine it now:

"Was it all muscle and callipygous, or more soft and callipygous?"

"...what?"

Evan Parisey said...

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Evan Parisey said...

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Evan Parisey said...

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