Friday 17 August 2012


Image: Wikipedia
Worms can be pretty too, you know.

Tomopteris is a genus of rather attractive, pelagic polychaetes. In other words, bristleworms who swim in the ocean. "Tomopteris" means "cut wing", alluding to how their parapods form a kind of fin for swimming.

There's almost no information available about them! A shame, because they look sort of mesmerising; if you're to be hypnotised, it's best to know a little something about who's doing it.

Image: WoRMS for SMEBD
At least some of them reside in the deep sea and are remarkably transparent until they glow a beautiful, bioluminescent blue. One of them glows yellow, which is rare for sea creatures, and they can even fire bioluminescent mucus. The stuff shines in the darkness as a distraction for predators while the actual worm makes its getaway.

Image: neptunecanada via Flickr
Spotted at a depth of 535 m (1,755 ft)
They only reach a few centimetres long, though the remarkably long tail on some of them must surely add to that. And then there's the pair of long, slim antennae, which I imagine is pretty useful in the dark.

All in all, it's like a Squidworm after a visit to the beauty parlour. Probably several visits to the beauty parlour. Few surgeons... Whoever it was, they were a miracle worker!


Bill said...

Amazing what can be found in the depths of the ocean!

Joseph JG said...

Too true! And not always so bad looking, either!

TexWisGirl said...

as long as they stay out of my intestines, i'm good. :)

FaustXIII said...

Looks really pretty especially in that gif image. I wish we could see a pic of the yellow species.

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: Hahaha! Good point!

@FaustXIII: I find it hypnotic in the gif, I could look at it for hours!

Kat said...

it´s not a parasite, it´s a predator, feeding on other zooplankton. amazing creatures!

Joseph JG said...

They sure are!

Derek said...

I have video of one closer to 5 inches long dragging and tending it's egg sack. Is it unusual for them to get this large?

Joseph JG said...

Yes! That sounds unusually large!