The scientific world was long ago aware of the existence of an ancient mollusc. However, this creature left behind only a shell as proof of its existence. Nonetheless, as of recently a group of men discovered the first living specimen of the giant shipworm captured in the wild. Its original location was in the Philippines and it was completely enclosed in a shell that resembles a tusk.
A Local TV Footage Sparked Search Parties for the Giant Shipworm in 2010
An international team of scientists from the Northeastern University, University of the Philippines, University of Utah, Drexel University, and Sultan Kudarat State University has just published the first comprehensive paper about the giant shipworm. They managed to capture the first specimen of the Kuphus polythalamia species. Their existence was hinted away by a series of tusk-like shells that were three feet long. They used to be buried in the mud of the Philippines shores. However, the inhabitants of such enclosures were nowhere to be found.
Nonetheless, scientists managed to collect more data about these creatures thanks to this latest discovery. The international team tried to find this specimen of giant shipworm since 2010. This was when the local television broadcasted how a man tried to eat such a mollusc. The character explained his resolution as an attempt to unlock miraculous medicinal properties. Daniel Distel and Ruth Turner were looking for such creatures since the beginning of their careers.
“It’s hard not to be amazed when seeing one in the flesh, even if you know nothing about them. There is no other animal like them.”
The Longest Bivalve Worm Feeds on Symbiotic Bacteria
The TV material gave solid grounds for professionals to start looking for the giant shipworm across the Philippines shores. There were two expeditions that the local researchers organized. They took place in 2010 and 2011. The latter one was successful. Researchers brought back to their labs several specimens for in-depth study.
The giant shipworm is the longest bivalve worm in the world. It is also the last living species of its genus. Unlike its cousins that burrow and eat driftwood, the giant shipworm prefers a more passive lifestyle. It surrounds itself with nothing but mud. Its nourishment is extremely limited. It seems that it consumes only symbiotic bacteria that develop in its gills.
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