Wednesday 18 July 2012

Bearded Fireworm

Image: Philippe Guillaume via Flickr
Hermodice carunculata
Awwwwww! Look how cute and fluffy! I'm gonna call that bit an ear and tickle behind it!



Thus endeth the lesson.

Image: alfonsator via Flickr
The Bearded Fireworm looks like a big, hairy caterpillar. One of those big, hairy caterpillars you shouldn't touch in case it's horribly venomous.

Luckily, you don't have to worry about that with the Bearded Fireworm, because they're DEFINITELY venomous. They are polychaetes who have hollow, toxic bristles which are ever so keen to puncture skin. If they get their wish, the intense burning sensation is so intense and burny, they got named after it.

They even look like the pain they inflict! Which is gracious of them. Sort of.

Bearded Fireworms come from rocky areas around the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Most of them scarcely reach 10 cm (4 in) long, but some can get to over 30 cm (a foot) in length.

They spend their time clambering around the rocks in search of food. When threatened, those striking bristles are flared out in a threat display. It makes them look all the more the fluffy and inviting, but this is definitely a case where the more you want to, the more you shouldn't. Think of it as an angry cat with venomous claws. Or a hedgehog who can fire napalm from its spines.

Image: sniffette via Flickr
Chomping on the tips
Bearded Fireworms are voracious predators, feeding on crustaceans, sea anemones and corals. Like an incredibly picky connoisseur, they can climb up some corals, engulf the tip and strip it of all flesh. It's like a herbivore eating tender shoots. Only it's meat.

I find it quite endearing. It's nice when a caterpillar tries out toxins and stuff, but it takes a worm to show 'em how it's REALLY done.


Magia da Inês said...

É um bonito animal mas muito perigoso.
Bom dia!

TexWisGirl said...

they are really pretty - fire or not!

Joseph JG said...

A lot of dragons are exactly the same!

Crunchy said...

So when WILL you be covering the Northern Incendiary Hedgehog?

Joseph JG said...

When those GM scientists get off their arses and give the people what they REALLY want!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that has to be the pretties worm I have ever seen!

Joseph JG said...

I love it when pretty things hurt! Or do I hate it...? I guess I'm ambivalent.

FaustXIII said...

Check out first pic... you can feel intensity!

Joseph JG said...

Yes! It almost sizzles and burns right there!