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What is this worm like creature?

What is this worm like creature?


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Recently while cleaning my garden, I saw this worm like creature which resembles a leech but is humongous in size if I compare that with commonly found leeches in my area, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. I did not see something like this before so, I captured a snap of this creature and posting it here to know more about it if someone can give me a hint.


This is probably a land planarian, a flatworm (Plathyhelminthes) from the Subfamily Bipaliinae, called "hammerhead worm". This Subfamily is native to the Indian subcontinent, which matchs your description.

According to Wikipedia,

The subfamily Bipaliinae is characterized by having a semilunar head that gives them the common name "hammerhead worms". The head has peripheral sensory pits on the ventral side and small peripheral eyes on the dorsal side.

You can see this semilunar head on the animal's anterior end (right hand side in your photo).

This subfamily contains the largest flatworms known. The larger one is Bipalium kewense, which can grow up to 40 cm.

However, the individual in your photo doesn't seem like B. kewense, which is a quite narrow worm and has a large head, with a different colour and stripes pattern:

Source: https://niceworms.wikispaces.com/Bipalium+kewense?responseToken=05b65f9b09b41aa5da58c3026c7f3ce8e

The one in your photo seems more like B. adventitium, which is a bit wider and has a smaller head:

Source: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/82290-Bipalium-adventitium

The problem is that B. adventitious adults are only 10 cm long, and that is hardly humongous.

So, I'd just say "it is a Bipaliinae flatworm", without narrowing it down to the species.

PS: It's not a leech (Annelida) because, among other clues, it clearly lacks metamerism.


Bearded fireworms are usually 15 centimetres in average length, but can reach up to 30 centimetres. [1] [2]

At first glance, this fire worm looks like a centipede with its elongated and flattened appearance, multiple segments, white silks, and parapodia and gills located on the side of its body. Its colors are varied and range from greenish, to yellowish, to reddish, grayish through white with a pearly glow. The body consists of 60 to 150 identical segments separated from each other by a thin white line and protected by cuticles. [1] Each segment has a pair of parapodia, a structure for locomotion, clusters of stinging white bristles, and red or orange gills all in bilateral position. The anterior part of the worm can be recognized by small growths, called caruncle, which have the same color of the gills on the first four segments. The mouth is ventral and is located on the second segment. The head is shown on the first segment and includes the eyes and other sensory organs.

The bearded fireworm lives throughout the tropical coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean. On the eastern side they are found from Algeria to Liberia, and on the western side from the southeast coast of the United States of America to Guyana, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. They are also found in the Mediterranean Sea especially around the Italian coasts. [3] [1]

This fireworm is found in many marine living environments such as corals, rocks, mud, sand, posidonia, and on drifting wood as well as port infrastructure in shallow water from the surface to 40 meters deep. [2]

The bearded fireworm is a voracious predator that supplements its diet with plant material.

The bearded fireworm is a slow creature, and is not considered a threat to humans unless touched by careless swimmers. The bristles, when flared, can penetrate human skin, injecting a powerful neurotoxin and producing intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the area of contact. The sting can also lead to nausea and dizziness. This sensation lasts up to a few hours, but a painful tingling can continue to be felt around the area of contact. In a case of accidental contact, application and removal of adhesive tape will help remove the spines applying isopropanol to the area may help alleviate the pain.

The transcriptome of the bearded fireworm was sequenced and annotated in 2015. [4]


Tiny worm-like creatures found frozen in Siberia are 24,000 YEARS old – and they can still have babies

The microscopic organisms can even reproduce after being thawed out and scientists are calling them an “evolutionary scandal”.

The organisms are called bdelloid rotifers and they're female only creatures that reproduce via cloning.

They were found in permafrost in Siberia.

Permafrost is a thick layer of frozen ground, which can include rock and soil, that has remained frozen for longer than two years and it makes up about 24% of exposed land surface on Earth.

Bdelloid rotifers are known for their ability to withstand extreme situations like drying, radiation starvation and a lack of oxygen.

The organisms are thought to have existed for 35million years at this point.

The ones found in the permafrost would have lived alongside mammoths and Ice Age creatures.

We can still find modern ones today in fresh water lakes, ponds streams and even some moss.

They have a digestive tract with a mouth and an anus.

It's thought they survive with their ability to almost stop all activity in their body including their metabolism.

Researchers at the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Pushchino, Russia, have been conducting a study.

They used a drill to find the organisms in the permafrost and then radiocarbon dated them.

They then published a study in the journal Current Biology and revealed the creatures were able to reproduce in the lab.

It's hoped further study of the organisms could teach us more about the cryo-preservation of human cells, tissues and organs.

Researcher Stas Malavin said: "The takeaway is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then return back to life -- a dream of many fiction writers.

"Of course, the more complex the organism, the trickier it is to preserve it alive frozen and, for mammals, it's not currently possible.

"Yet, moving from a single-celled organism to an organism with a gut and brain, though microscopic, is a big step forward."


Karen Osborn is curator of Marine Invertebrates at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C..

IRA FLATOW: I’m Ira Flatow, and this is Science Friday. It’s time for another Charismatic Creature Corner. Joining me is this week’s Charismatic Creature Correspondent, Producer Christie Taylor hey there Christie

IRA FLATOW: All right. I know this is your first time on the Charismatic Creature beat. But remind our listeners of the concept, if you will.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: Yeah, what we do here is pretty simple. I bring you a creature. I bring in a scientist for backup. And we, together, try to convince you that this particular creature is worthy of entering the hallowed Charismatic Creature hall of fame, which means it gets to sit at the same imaginary charismatic table as some of the more popular creatures out there, like your red pandas, your sugar gliders, your blue whales, et cetera.

IRA FLATOW: All right. I got you. Go ahead.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: Yeah, and as you probably remember, we like to challenge ourselves here at Sci Fri. We have tried to convince you of the charisma of everything from slime molds to vampire bats.

IRA FLATOW: And somehow, I have been sweet talked into liking both of those creatures. OK. So what is today’s offering?

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: Well Ira, I want you to think of it as a belated Hanukkah present. Or perhaps it’s a Christmas present that I am giving myself. But either way, we’re going to debate marine polychaetes, which are also known as bristle worms. What does that evoke for you?

IRA FLATOW: Well, I got to tell you that as a saltwater aquarist, I know what they are. And I have seen people keeping them in tanks. They’re like crawly things, sort of covered in bristles I have the feeling that you may have to do some real fast talking to convince me of their charisma.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: All right. That’s fair. I will say, after looking at dozens and dozens of photos of these things, I think they’re enthralling. And to convince you of their charisma, I am calling in a scientist for backup, Dr. Karen Osborn, a Marine Scientist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Welcome to Science Friday, Karen.

KAREN OSBORN: Thanks for having me.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: Before I start to make my case about cuteness, I do have to get the bad stuff up front. We have to acknowledge that we have some really noxious stuff going on. I mean, some of the polychaetes that we’re talking about are bloodworms, fireworms, bobbit worms. Tell us about that, Karen.

KAREN OSBORN: Yeah, so there are some pretty nasty characters out there in the polychaete group. The bloodworms have four big hook like jaws, and their entire mouth everts. And as the mouth everts, those jaws come out and latch on to something. A lot of the polychaetes, or the bristle worms, are predators, right? They need some way to catch their prey. And that often equates to big jaws.

The bobbit worm is a really cool worm that lives in coral reefs. And it has these huge jaws that are about twice as wide as its body. And it sits there and has them spread open like a bear trap or something. And if a fish or something goes by, they snap close and catch it.

KAREN OSBORN: So there’s some pretty tough characters out there.

IRA FLATOW: OK, One minute– time out. For those of us who may not ever have heard of these creatures, can you just tell us more about what makes a polychaete a polychaete? Did they have other names?

KAREN OSBORN: Polychaetes are a group of marine worms. They’re segmented worms. They’re related to earthworms and leeches. But the marine worms are called polychaetes or bristle worms. And the reason they’re called that is because they have many bristles all the way down the side of their body. If you rub your fingers down the side of an earthworm, you’ll feel that they have some little, really stubby little bristles, just a few of them on the side of their body.

But marine worms, many of them, have lots and lots of these bristles. And oftentimes, they’re really long. And you can see them. They’re even really beautiful, the way they reflect the light. But their name, polychaete, it means many bristles. Now you’ve learned a new term.

IRA FLATOW: Thank you. I feel much better about that.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: And Karen, I know that there are many, many, many, many different kinds of polychaetes. So I feel like our best strategy for winning Ira over is to go through a few examples of species that are especially charismatic. And there’s one I actually know, Ira, that you already like, which is deep sea tubeworms.

IRA FLATOW: Tubeworms! Whoa, now you got my attention. I love tubeworms. One point for you guys, now.

KAREN OSBORN: Well, these are some of the largest and most charismatic worms in the polychaete group. And the tubeworms that we find at hydrothermal vents can be as big around as your forearm. They have these big, red, velvety looking plumes that stick out of a tube. And they have millions of bacteria that live inside their body and help them make energy from the chemicals that are seeping up out of the ocean or bubbling up through the hydrothermal vents.

But there’s a bunch of different kinds of tubeworms in the polychaete group. And they are fantastic. And they live in these really extreme habitats. And they’re really important parts of their communities. Because all the other animals that live around these hydrothermal vents hide in between their tubes, or live on the side of their tubes, or try to eat the worms. So they’re really cornerstone members of those communities, and really important.

IRA FLATOW: You know, you really know how to get to my soft spot. Because you hit it when you said that they had a giant microbiome living inside of them.

KAREN OSBORN: Absolutely. They are the kings of that. So almost their entire body is made up of these chemosynthetic bacteria. They provide the sulfur they pull out of the water, and they also provide the oxygen that they pull out of the water. And all those bacteria in their special organ that fills most of their bodies make energy for them, not to mention that they’re really beautiful, with those big red plumes, and the way they come in and out of their tubes.

IRA FLATOW: On the other hand, though, don’t some of them still kind of– I know this term isn’t very scientific. Do they just gross you out?

KAREN OSBORN: Of course! Of course! They’re worms, after all, right?

KAREN OSBORN: I mean, I spend most of my time trying to convince people like you that polychaete worms are absolutely beautiful, amazing creatures. And if you take a close look at them, they come in all the colors. That come in all different sizes. The way that they move, then you kind of start to see the beauty in them. And that’s really easy to do with some of the worms. Some of the worms are just absolutely gorgeous.

One of my favorite ones are the gossamer worms, or [INAUDIBLE]. Think of like a palm frond or fern frond that’s completely transparent, a little bit shimmery blue, maybe, and just weaves its way through the water, and does it in an incredibly graceful way. And as a bonus, they can also shoot yellow bioluminescent light out the tips of their arms.

IRA FLATOW: Wait, wait, wait a minute. Say that again?

KAREN OSBORN: They can shoot yellow bioluminescent light out the tips of their arms, that they use to swim.

KAREN OSBORN: That’s one of those features you’d like to have yourself, right?

IRA FLATOW: Yes. I also note, there’s also a Christmas tree worm, right? Seasonal now.

KAREN OSBORN: Exactly. Christmas tree worms are one of the most beautiful worms, actually, one of the ones that hooked me when I was just a college student, and I was diving on a reef, and looking at these beautiful little multicolored Christmas tree shapes that would stick out of the coral. And if you waved your hand over the top of them, they would instantly disappear, and then they come back out again in a few minutes.

Those are sabellid polychaete worms. Absolutely beautiful little animals. Also, tubeworms, right? They have a tube that goes down into the coral, that they retreat into when they feel like they’re in danger. They’re also really cool, because they have eyes on the tips of each of those branches that you see. Can you imagine your Christmas tree with eyes on the tips of all the branches?

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: That’s the only way I want to decorate my Christmas tree now.

IRA FLATOW: OK, so you’re sort of describing great superheroes. They have all this wonderful stuff going for them, especially the light shooting. But what other special abilities do they have? Can they really be super?

KAREN OSBORN: I mean, other than capturing prey in amazing ways– oftentimes prey bigger and stronger than themselves, there’s some scale worms that live symbiotically on things like sea stars or corals. And they live on the animal, and they run around and clean it. They tend to be like a chameleon and match whatever animal is that they’re living on. There’s alciopids, which are another one of the worms like the gossamer worms, that lives up in the water column– not at the surface, not at the deep sea floor, but all that water in between.

But one of the groups of worms that lives there is alciopids. And they– this is another eye story. Their bodies can be up to a meter long, so like three or four feet long, but only about as big around as a pencil. But on the front end of that pencil, they have eyes that are as big as the eraser on a pencil.

KAREN OSBORN: And they’re actually lensed eyes. They can see about as well as we can, which is just not really what you want to think about when you think about a worm, right?

IRA FLATOW: I’m thinking, yeah.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: So Karen, I feel like you’re undermining your case now, suddenly.

KAREN OSBORN: I mean, as a person who works on how vision has evolved, it’s really, really interesting to look at all the different ways that all these different types of polychaetes have figured out how to survive in their habitat, and to get the things that they need, and to keep themselves safe, right? And so just the thought of thanking of them looking at you as a little bit weird. But if you actually look at the animals themselves, they’re so beautiful. And those big eyes, with their crystaline lenses at the end, are just really nice.

IRA FLATOW: I think I’ll leave you two together to gaze at each other.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: I’m still a little creeped out by a worm that can look at me as well as I can look at it. But going back to how they’re adapted for so many habitats, isn’t it true that we can find polychaetes basically anywhere in the ocean, including ice floes?

KAREN OSBORN: Yes, anywhere in the ocean, we find polychaetes, all the way down to the deepest places that we’ve sampled. We find them in the ice in Antarctica. We find them in methane ice as well, which is pretty awful stuff to live in. Pretty much every habitat, even up in freshwater, we find polychaete worms.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: Well, and here’s what I find really fascinating. There’s this kind called zombie worms– which Halloween wasn’t too long ago. And they literally help us recycle dead whales. Tell us about that.

KAREN OSBORN: They do. The zombie worms are fantastic. So, and I was actually involved in the discovery of them, which was really fun and exciting at the time. And they brought me this worm. And they, we don’t really know what this is. And I’ve looked at it. And it looked like a worm on top.

But on the bottom half, it had this lumpy body that had roots growing out of it, in different directions. And I was like well, it looks like a worm on top. But I don’t know what’s going on on the bottom there. What they are is– they’re polychaete worms. They make gelatinous tubes. And basically, there are as larvae floating around out in the ocean. And if there is a whale that dies and sinks to the bottom, and one of these larvae hits that whale, it turns into a female. And it settles on the bone, and it starts to grow roots down into that bone.

And again, they have a really super cool, helpful microbiome that helps them digest the bone and turn the sulfur in those bones into energy. And so they have that big, globular part of the body and all the roots, is the organ that all bacteria are in. And they just grow continuously through the bone and digest it. And the worm has a pretty red plume that sticks up into the water and gets oxygen for those bacteria and for itself. And–

IRA FLATOW: It’s called a zombie worm? Did you name it?

KAREN OSBORN: I did not. I did not name that one.

IRA FLATOW: OK, OK, OK. We’ve definitely got some neat traits here. But can polychaetes get beyond the gee whiz factor? There certainly is the gee whiz factor. And what I mean by that is, can we learn anything from them?

KAREN OSBORN: Oh, absolutely. So the zombie worms are a nice example of something that we didn’t understand how these things happened before the zombie worms were discovered, right? So in the past, there’s been lots of whales. What happens to their carcasses when they hit the ground? Pretty quickly, scavengers come in, right? And they get all the flash, and all the blubber, and all of that off. But then the bones could potentially just sit there.

But what happens is, the zombie worms, they grow through the bones, and they digest them slowly. And as they make them more brittle and more hole-y, other animals can come in and break pieces off, and then can access the nutrients there. There’s an entire succession that happens on a whale as it breaks down in the ocean over a couple of years and provides this really huge source of nutrients for things that live in the deep ocean.

And so as we’ve been learning more things about worms and other animals out there in the ocean, we better understand how carbon flows in the ocean, and how important the diversity of animals is that are out there. We also can learn lots of cool things, like how they move. So one project that I’m working on is looking at, actually, gossamer worms. And they swim really fast. And they’re really maneuverable.

But what we know about how animals that have long bodies with lots of segments, what we know about how they swim, the gossamer worms should not be very fast. They shouldn’t be maneuverable, and they shouldn’t be able to swim for long periods of time. But we watch these things with the submersibles and the RRVs. And we see them outrun us and outmaneuver us.

And that’s really embarrassing, right? When you’ve got like a $2 million machine, and this little worm just outran you, and you can’t catch it? It makes you wonder how they do it. And so we’ve started collecting them and videoing them with high speed cameras, and looking at the mechanics of how they actually move, and how they’re able to be so maneuverable and move themselves through the water. And there’s lots of really interesting things that we can then use for things like building a robot to, say swim up one of your veins, to look at something that’s obstructing there.

Once you pick those animals up, and you bring them back into the lab, and you look at them under the microscope, and you see what fantastic structures they have to solve their challenges in life, it’s really cool. Like the bristles on bristle worms, they come in– I don’t know– thousands of different shapes. There’s 10,000 different types of polychaetes that have been described so far, and probably about that many that haven’t been described yet. And there’s at least– I don’t know– a guesstimate would be something like 500 to 1,000 different kinds of bristles on those different worms.

And they’re all to do different things. Some of them are to be able to crawl around in their tubes. Some of them and to be able to cut holes in their tubes, so they can make branches on them. Some of them, they’re to be able to catch things. Some of them, they’re to be able to dig into the type of mud that they’re crawling around on.

KAREN OSBORN: So there are really all these cool mechanical things going on with these animals.

IRA FLATOW: I’m Ira Flatow, and this is “Science Friday.” If you’re just joining us, we’re debating marine bristle worms, or polychaetes, with Dr. Karen Osborn, and this week’s Charismatic Creature Correspondent, Producer Christie Taylor.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: Karen, Ira, let me see if I can summarize the case for charisma with these polychaete. We have things like 10,000 species. They can shoot yellow bioluminescence. Some of them have human eyes. They have cool microbiomes. Ira, you love these. They also d things like help keep their friends clean. And they can live anywhere. They’re vital to marine ecologies. They live in the bones of whales. I mean, Karen, is there anything else we could possibly be missing from this list of amazing traits?

KAREN OSBORN: Well, I don’t know. How much time do you guys have?

IRA FLATOW: You’ve already convinced me. I have to just admit, going into this, knowing the bristle worms, I wasn’t too crazy about it. But Christie, you rattled off all those great things, especially the light shooting out from the arms, and the microbiome.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: Everyone loves a laser show.

IRA FLATOW: Yeah, these are like the superheroes of the ocean, to me. They can do all these kinds of things. And the environment that they lived at– how far down in the ocean do they live, some of these?

KAREN OSBORN: As deep as we’ve ever gone. So down to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, we can find them.

IRA FLATOW: These are the superheroes, I think, of the ocean. So OK, you’ve done it again. You have turned around. They must be included. Maybe a special spot in the hall of fame here.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: Wow, OK. So Karen, does it bring you joy?

KAREN OSBORN: It does beg me joy. I mean, it’s a little bit of a cheat, right? Because there’s 10,000 species. So there’s a lot of room there to describe a lot of cool different things. And we could keep talking about them for a long time. But yeah, there are some really–

IRA FLATOW: OK. Name all 10,000. Go ahead. I’ve got time.

KAREN OSBORN: Can I just make up a bunch of weird sounding words?

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: All right, well Thank you so much, Karen. Dr. Karen Osborn is curator of marine invertebrates at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC and a polychaete champion. Thank you so much for joining us, Karen.

KAREN OSBORN: Absolutely. It was really fun.

IRA FLATOW: And Karen, let me add to that. Thank you so much for helping me see the charisma of polychaetes. And thank you, Christie. Christie Taylor, a Science Friday Producer and this week’s Charismatic Creature correspondent.

CHRISTIE TAYLOR: Thank you, Ira.

IRA FLATOW: If you’d like to see some of these polychaetes we’ve been talking about, by the way, you can go to our website, ScienceFriday.com/worms, just in case you need a bit more proof that they are truly beautiful.

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This Worm-Like Creature is our Earliest Ancestor and Holds the “Blueprint” for Life

Could a primordial worm-like creature be the oldest relative of the human species? Biologists, zoologists and other evolutionary experts continue to investigate our ancestral links to other, earlier creatures that existed in the natural world. This led to a rather startling and exciting discovery in Australia recently. A fossil found in Nilpena, located in the south of Australia, has revealed a wee, 555 million year old, worm-like creature that has distinct traits in common with homo sapiens, and shares a spot near, or at, the top of our oldest family tree.

The team doing the research, led by professor Dr. Mary Droser and recent PhD graduate Dr. Scott Evans, geologists from the University of California Riverside, who say the newly discovered fossil has confirmed what evolutionary biologists have theorized for decades now. Droser explained in an interview with the Daily Mail, “It’s the oldest fossil (we have) with this type of complexity,” she began. “This is what evolutionary biologists predicted. It’s really exciting that what we have found lines up so neatly with their predictions.”

Those predictions, she continued, were that man’s origins lie on the ocean floor, where this fossil of Ikaria Bilaterian, as the little, rice grain sized animal is called, was found. Although it is indeed tiny, the worm-like animal has a front and back, and two openings at two separate ends that are connected by a gut those criteria are what bestow this little guy a place on all life’s family tree. As Droser said, it is the “blueprint” from which every life form that came after it sprang.

The creature’s way of moving included digging down into the ocean floor, seeking pockets of organic matter — food. It also used its muscles in a contracting and releasing way that enabled it to move, much like a modern day worm moves. “We thought,” said Droser, “these might have been the early bilaterians that we were looking for.”

Ikaria wariootia. Image by Apokryltaros CC by 4.0

The fossil even indicates, to their well trained eyes, that the Ikaria Bilaterian had basic sensory abilities, something scientists believed but, until this discovery, were not able to prove conclusively. The latest computer technology they employed, however, enabled the team to take the theory and make the findings concrete.

Evans was equally thrilled by the discovery of the fossil, and explained to the Daily Mail that, “once we had the 3D scans, we knew that we had made an important discovery.”

The name given to the creature, Ikaria, is a tribute to the founding peoples of Australia. The word Ikaria means “meeting place” in the language of Australia’s first Indigenous people. The word ‘bilaterian’ is defined as animals that have bilateral symmetry, symmetrical sides (as humans do) a head, anus and gut. The Ikaria Bilaterian may be tiny, but it fits the bill on all counts.

Droser and Evans are thrilled by the new findings, and plan to continue researching our earliest relative for fresh insights. Some are calling Ikaria Warjootia, in a nod to Warjootia Creek, in southern Australia, another tribute to the people and location where this vital discovery was made.

No matter what scientists call it, this worm-like creature proves that man’s ancestors go back much further than many previously speculated, back far beyond even our earliest relatives in the monkey community. No doubt scientists like Droser and Evans will continue searching for clues to discover just how far back mankind can be traced, and just where the earliest life forms on the planet are located.


Two divers dwarfed by bizarre 26ft worm-like ‘creature’… but can you guess what it is?

Steve Hathaway, 56, and Andrew Buttle, 48, were diving off the coast of Whakaari, a stratovolcano on White Island, New Zealand, when they discovered the gelatinous worm.

Initially diving to record footage for the island which Andrew inherited from his grandfather, their focus was stolen by the hollow creature - which is made up of hundreds of thousands of organisms.

The worm can be seen moving delicately through the water, occasionally shuddering and pulsating whilst the divers swim gently around it so not to disturb it.

At a depth of around 32 feet, the organism slowly travelled around 656 feet, taking on many different shapes and sizes.

Pilot Andrew said: “Having never seen one in person or even footage or photos of one before, I was quite incredulous and elated that such a creature existed.

“It was very puzzling but also fantastic to be able to view it right up close and spend so much time with it.

“The island is 48 kilometres from the mainland, and there is a vast amount of fish life and nutrients in the water that may have had the right circumstances to become so large.

“I believe it is possibly a Pyrosome - occasionally they are caught in nets but not many intact large specimens have been caught to my knowledge.

“At times there can be blooms of thousands of small versions of these creatures in many parts of the world, but not something I had ever seen before."

What exactly are pyrosomes and how big can they get?

Pyrosomes are bizarre cylindrical colonies made up of thousands of organisms called zooids.

They range massively in size from less than one centimeter to up to 20 metres in length.

Each cylindrical colony feeds on plankton by filtering gallons of water per hour.

Most species of pyrosomes, including sea pickles, are considered tropical-to-subtropical.

The gelatinous creatures are commonly found off the coast of southern California.

Pyrosomes are rarely encountered by humans, but scientists believe the ocean is full of them.

Steve, who founded Young Ocean Explorers, an educational entertainment platform encouraging children to explore the world's oceans, said: “Without a doubt the highlight of the trip was to find the pyrosome - I’ve wanted to see one for many years now.

“The ocean is such a fascinating place and much more fascinating to explore when you actually understand some of what you see, such as the different behaviours."

Andrew inherited the active volcanic island from his late grandfather, who only managed to visit his purchase from the government for half an hour.


Tiny worm-like creatures found frozen in Siberia are 24,000 YEARS old – and they can still have babies

The microscopic organisms can even reproduce after being thawed out and scientists are calling them an “evolutionary scandal”.

The organisms are called bdelloid rotifers and they're female only creatures that reproduce via cloning.

They were found in permafrost in Siberia.

Permafrost is a thick layer of frozen ground, which can include rock and soil, that has remained frozen for longer than two years and it makes up about 24% of exposed land surface on Earth.

Bdelloid rotifers are known for their ability to withstand extreme situations like drying, radiation starvation and a lack of oxygen.

The organisms are thought to have existed for 35million years at this point.

The ones found in the permafrost would have lived alongside mammoths and Ice Age creatures.

We can still find modern ones today in fresh water lakes, ponds streams and even some moss.

They have a digestive tract with a mouth and an anus.

It's thought they survive with their ability to almost stop all activity in their body including their metabolism.

Researchers at the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Pushchino, Russia, have been conducting a study.

They used a drill to find the organisms in the permafrost and then radiocarbon dated them.

They then published a study in the journal Current Biology and revealed the creatures were able to reproduce in the lab.

It's hoped further study of the organisms could teach us more about the cryo-preservation of human cells, tissues and organs.

Researcher Stas Malavin said: "The takeaway is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then return back to life -- a dream of many fiction writers.

"Of course, the more complex the organism, the trickier it is to preserve it alive frozen and, for mammals, it's not currently possible.

"Yet, moving from a single-celled organism to an organism with a gut and brain, though microscopic, is a big step forward."


Spiky monsters: New species of 'super-armored' worm discovered

Collinsium ciliosum, a Collins' monster-type lobopodian from the early Cambrian Xiaoshiba biota of China. Credit: Javier Ortega-Hernández

A new species of 'super-armoured' worm, a bizarre, spike-covered creature which ate by filtering nutrients out of seawater with its feather-like front legs, has been identified by palaeontologists. The creature, which lived about half a billion years ago, was one of the first animals on Earth to develop armour to protect itself from predators and to use such a specialised mode of feeding.

The creature, belonging to a poorly understood group of early animals, is also a prime example of the broad variety of form and function seen in the early evolutionary history of a modern group of animals that, today, are rather homogenous. The results, from researchers at the University of Cambridge and Yunnan University in China, are published today (29 June) in the journal PNAS.

The creature has been named Collinsium ciliosum, or Hairy Collins' Monster, named for the palaeontologist Desmond Collins, who discovered and first illustrated a similar Canadian fossil in the 1980s. The newly-identified species lived in what is now China during the Cambrian explosion, a period of rapid evolutionary development around half a billion years ago, when most major animal groups first appear in the fossil record.

A detailed analysis of its form and evolutionary relationships indicates that the Chinese Collins' Monster is a distant early ancestor of modern velvet worms, or onychophorans, a small group of squishy animals resembling legged worms that live primarily in tropical forests around the world.

"Modern velvet worms are all pretty similar in terms of their general body organisation and not that exciting in terms of their lifestyle," said Dr Javier Ortega-Hernández of Cambridge's Department of Earth Sciences, one of the paper's lead authors. "But during the Cambrian, the distant relatives of velvet worms were stunningly diverse and came in a surprising variety of bizarre shapes and sizes."

Collinsium ciliosum, a Collins' monster-type lobopodian from the early Cambrian Xiaoshiba biota of China. Credit: Jie Yang

The pattern of diverse ancestors leading to relatively unvaried modern relatives has been observed in other groups in the fossil record, including sea lilies (crinoids) and lamp shells (brachiopods). However, this is the first time that this evolutionary pattern has been observed in a mostly soft-bodied group.

Ortega-Hernández and his colleagues identified a remarkably well-preserved fossil from southern China, which included details of the full body organisation, the digestive tract, even down to a delicate coat of hair-like structures on the front end. Their analysis found it to be a new species - an eccentric ancestor of an otherwise straight-laced group.

The Chinese Collins' Monster had a soft and squishy body, six pairs of feather-like front legs, and nine pairs of rear legs ending in claws. Since the clawed rear legs were not well-suited for walking along the muddy ocean floor, it is likely that Collinsium eked out an existence by clinging onto sponges or other hard substances by its back claws, while sieving out its food with its feathery front legs. Some modern animals, including bamboo shrimp, feed in a similar way, capturing passing nutrients with their fan-like forearms.

Given its sedentary lifestyle and soft body, the Chinese Collins' Monster would have been a sitting duck for any predators, so it developed an impressive defence mechanism: as many as 72 sharp and pointy spikes of various sizes covering its body, making it one of the earliest soft-bodied animals to develop armour for protection.

The Chinese Collins' Monster resembles Hallucigenia, another otherworldly Cambrian fossil, albeit one which has been the subject of much more study.

"Both creatures are lobopodians, or legged worms, but the Collins' Monster sort of looks like Hallucigenia on steroids," said Ortega-Hernández. "It had much heavier armour protecting its body, with up to five pointy spines per pair of legs, as opposed to Hallucigenia's two. Unlike Hallucigenia, the limbs at the front of Collins' Monster's body were also covered with fine brushes or bristles that were used for a specialised type of feeding from the water column."

The spines along Collinsium's back had a cone-in-cone construction, similar to Russian nesting dolls. This same construction has also been observed in the closely-related Hallucigenia and the claws in the legs of velvet worms, making both Collinsium and Hallucigenia distant ancestors of modern onychophorans. According to Ortega-Hernández, "There are at least four more species with close family ties to the Collins' Monster, which collectively form a group known as Luolishaniidae. Fossils of these creatures are hard to come by and mostly fragmentary, so the discovery of Collinsium greatly improves our understanding of these bizarre organisms."

The fossil was found in the Xiaoshiba deposit in southern China, a site which is less-explored than the larger Chengjiang deposit nearby, but has turned up fascinating and well-preserved specimens from this key period in Earth's history.

"Animals during the Cambrian were incredibly diverse, with lots of interesting behaviours and modes of living," said Ortega-Hernández. "The Chinese Collins' Monster was one of these evolutionary 'experiments' - one which ultimately failed as they have no living direct ancestors - but it's amazing to see how specialised many animals were hundreds of millions of years ago. At its core, the study of the fossil record seeks answers about the evolution of life on Earth that can only be found in deep time. All the major biological events responsible for shaping the world we inhabit, such as the origin of life, the early diversification of animals, or the establishment of the modern biosphere, are intimately linked to the complex geological history of our planet."


A worm like no other

This is a worm? This photograph of the newly named worm shows its mouth, which typically faces downward as the animal drifts about 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) below the ocean surface. Image: Karen Osborn (c) 2006 MBARI

It sounds like a junior high school riddle—”What lives 3,000 feet below the ocean surface, is about the size of a marble, and looks like the back side of a pig?” MBARI marine biologists have pondering this riddle for years, having seen a number of these strange, round organisms during deep dives in Monterey Canyon. MBARI biologist Karen Osborn and her colleagues recently came up with an answer to this riddle by combining modern DNA analysis with traditional methods of scientific observation. What they discovered was a new species of deep-sea worm, but a worm like no other. In a recent scientific paper, they gave this little creature a Latin name: Chaetopterus pugaporcinus.

Although this animal looks unlike any adult worm known to science, coauthor Greg Rouse noticed that it had some features in common with the larvae (young) of a group of worms called chaetopterids. However, as Osborn and her coauthors wrote, “If the specimens described here are larvae, they are remarkable for their size, which . . . is five to ten times larger than any known chaetopterid larvae.” The animals also lacked certain body parts typically found on chaetopterid larvae.

At this point, the researchers began to suspect that they might have an adult worm on their hands (or in their sampling containers). However, all known adult chaetopterid worms have elongated, segmented bodies, and spend their lives inside parchment-like tubes attached to the seafloor.

This photograph shows the back of the newly named worm. The concentric ovals are body segments that have been flattened against a single central segment that has ballooned out to form the bulk of the worm’s body.
Image: Karen Osborn (c) 2006 MBARI

Looking closely at specimens of the new worm, the researchers found that although the worms had segmented bodies, one of their middle segments was inflated like a balloon, giving the animals a distinctive gum-ball shape. All the other segments were compressed up against the front and back of the inflated segment, like a cartoon character whose nose and hind-parts have been flattened in an unfortunate accident.

Even after the scientists figured out that they had found a new chaetopterid worm, there was no easy way to classify the creature because of its unique features. Chaetopterid worms are a pretty motley bunch in the first place, with dozens of species living in a wide variety of seafloor habitats. As Osborn put it, Chaetopterus is “a genus fraught with taxonomic controversy.”

Given the twisted chaetopterid family tree, Osborn and her coauthors decided to use modern DNA analysis to figure out who was related to whom. After analyzing the DNA from dozens of worms, the researchers created the first family tree that shows the relationships between 12 species of chaetopterid worms (including their new species)—a significant scientific feat in its own right.

This beautiful photograph shows a “normal” chaetopterid worm larva, with its elongated, segmented body. Many chaetopterid worms spend months as drifting larvae. Image: Karen Osborn (c) 2006 MBARI

To understand more about the new worms, the researchers combined these modern analytical techniques with the time-honored biological approach of making direct, meticulous observation of live animals in their native environment and of dissected animals in the laboratory. One thing they noticed was that all the worms were drifting at depths of about 900 to 1,200 meters (3,000 to 4,000 feet) below the ocean surface. Furthermore, the worms seemed to hang out in this particular depth range even when the seafloor itself was thousands of meters deeper.

The researchers suspect that their new worm may prefer these depths because this is where its food is. They often saw the worms drifting with their mouths downward, surrounded by a small cloud of mucus. They believe that the worms use this cloud of mucus to catch particles of marine snow—bits of dead organisms and fecal matter that drift down from the surface waters. The depth at which the worms hang out (just below the oxygen minimum zone), is particularly rich in marine snow.

The researchers still aren’t sure if the worms they have been studying are larvae or adults. None of the individuals they collected had any identifiable sex organs, eggs, or sperm. Thus, they could be, as the authors put it, “wayward larvae, swept off the continental shelf and unable to settle [to the seafloor], thus growing to unusual size and developing adult features.”

This photograph shows another view of Chaetopterus pugaporcinus, including its mouth parts. Image: Karen Osborn (c) 2006 MBARI

To test this hypothesis, the researchers placed one of the captured animals in a salt-water aquarium with deep-sea sediment and rocks on the bottom. But the creature seemed content with its drifting lifestyle and showed no signs of settling down to the bottom of the tank.

Another possible scenario (and one favored by the researchers) is that this species of worm is in the process of making an evolutionary “leap”—giving up a life on the seafloor and taking up a new life floating in the water column. This would be a spectacular achievement for a creature whose (newly assigned) Latin name translates to “Chaetopterid worm that looks like the rump of a pig.”


Contents

The sandworms in Dune were inspired by the dragons of European mythology that guard some sort of treasure. Favorites of Frank Herbert included the dragon in Beowulf that guarded a hoard of gold in a cave, and the dragon of Colchis that guarded the Golden Fleece from Jason. [2] [3] Like these dragons, the sandworms of Arrakis will attack anyone who attempts to harvest the treasure that is spice from the desert sands, as if they were guarding it (the sandworms actually do not care for the spice as it is waste matter). [4] In Children of Dune (1976), a character even refers to sandworms as "the dragons on the floor of the desert." [5]

In the plot of Frank Herbert's novel Dune, Herbert used the sandworms (along with the spice they produce) as a plot device to provide Paul Atreides with the trials through which he ascends to a superhuman state of being. Herbert believed that a memorable myth must have something profoundly moving that could either empower the hero or overwhelm him completely. The force in question must be dangerous and terrifying, yet somehow essential. In Dune, the sandworms serve this function. To earn the spice, humans must cope with sandworm attacks on their harvesting expeditions. To earn an even greater prize (his apotheosis into the all-seeing Kwisatz Haderach), Paul undergoes even more dangerous and transformative trials in which he risks madness and death, one of which involves the ritual sacrifice of a juvenile sandworm, and another in which he must learn to ride a sandworm. [6]

The elements of any mythology must grow from something profoundly moving, something which threatens to overwhelm any consciousness which tries to confront the primal mystery. Yet, after the primal confrontation, the roots of this threat must appear as familiar and necessary as your own flesh. For this, I give you the sandworms of Dune . the extension of human lifespan cannot be an unmitigated blessing. Every such acquisition requires a new consciousness. And a new consciousness assumes that you will confront dangerous unknowns—you will go into the deeps.

To escape the notice of the sandworms, a traveller in the desert must learn to "walk without rhythm", because sandworms mistake any rhythmic vibrations in the sand for prey (smaller sandworms). This element comes from Frank Herbert's experiences as a hunter and fisherman. He knew how to mask his presence from prey by techniques such as approaching from downwind and treading lightly. [7] Frank Herbert's son Brian explained that "In Children of Dune, Leto II allowed sandtrout to attach themselves to his body, and this was based in part upon my father’s own experiences as a boy growing up in Washington state, when he rolled up his trousers and waded into a stream or lake, permitting leeches to attach themselves to his legs." [8]

John Schoenherr provided the earliest artwork for the Dune series, including the illustrations in the initial pulp magazine serial and the cover of the first hardcover edition. Frank Herbert was very pleased with Schoenherr's art, [9] and remarked that he was "the only man who has ever visited Dune". [10] Schoenherr gave the sandworm three triangular lobes that form the lips of its mouth. This design was referenced for the sandworm puppets that appeared in the 1984 movie adaptation of Dune. [11]

Sandworms, native to the desert planet Arrakis, are also known as "Makers" or "Shai-Hulud" by the Fremen. The Fremen worship the sandworms as agents of God, and consider their actions a form of divine intervention. [12]

Physiology Edit

Sandworms are animals similar in appearance to colossal terrestrial annelids and in other ways to the lamprey. They are cylindrical worm-like creatures with a fearsome array of crystalline teeth which are used primarily for rasping rocks and sand. During his first close encounter with a sandworm in Dune, Paul notes, "Its mouth was some eighty meters in diameter . crystal teeth with the curved shape of crysknives glinting around the rim . the bellows breath of cinnamon, subtle aldehydes . acids . " [4]

Sandworms grow to hundreds of meters in length, with specimens observed over 400 metres (1,300 ft) long [13] [14] and 40 metres (130 ft) in diameter, although Paul becomes a sandrider by summoning a worm that "appeared to be" around half a league (1.5 miles (2.4 km)) or more in length. [15] These gigantic worms burrow deep in the ground and travel swiftly "most of the sand on Arrakis is credited to sandworm action". [13]

Sandworms are described as "incredibly tough" by Liet-Kynes, who further notes that "high-voltage electrical shock applied separately to each ring segment" is the only known way to kill and preserve them atomics are the only explosive powerful enough to kill an entire worm, with conventional explosives being unfeasible as "each ring segment has a life of its own". [16] Water is poisonous to the worms, [13] but it is in too short supply on Arrakis to be of use against any but the smallest of them.

Life cycle Edit

Herbert notes in Dune that microscopic creatures called sand plankton feed upon traces of melange scattered by sandworms on the Arrakeen sands. [17] The sand plankton are food for the giant sandworms, but also grow and burrow to become what the Fremen call Little Makers, "the half-plant-half-animal deep-sand vector of the Arrakis sandworm". [18]

Their leathery remains previously having "been ascribed to a fictional ' sandtrout ' in Fremen folk stories", Imperial Planetologist Pardot Kynes had discovered the Little Makers during his ecological investigations of the planet, deducing their existence before he actually found one. [17] Kynes determines that these "sandtrout" block off water "into fertile pockets within the porous lower strata below the 280° (absolute) line", [17] and Alia Atreides notes in Children of Dune that the "sandtrout, when linked edge to edge against the planet's bedrock, formed living cisterns". [19] The Fremen themselves protect their water supplies with "predator fish" that attack invading sandtrout. [19] Sandtrout can be lured by small traces of water, and Fremen children catch and play with them smoothing one over the hand forms a "living glove" until the creature is repelled by something in the "blood's water" and falls off. [19]

The sandtrout . was introduced here from some other place. This was a wet planet then. They proliferated beyond the capability of existing ecosystems to deal with them. Sandtrout encysted the available free water, made this a desert planet . and they did it to survive. In a planet sufficiently dry, they could move to their sandworm phase.

The sandtrout are described as "flat and leathery" in Children of Dune, with Leto II noting that they are "roughly diamond-shaped" with "no head, no extremities, no eyes" and "coarse interlacings of extruded cilia". [19] They can find water unerringly, and squeezing the sandtrout yields a "sweet green syrup". [19] When water is flooded into the sandtrout's excretions, a pre-spice mass is formed at this "stage of fungusoid wild growth", gases are produced which result in "a characteristic 'blow', exchanging the material from deep underground for the matter on the surface above it". [12] [20] After exposure to sun and air, this mass becomes melange. [20] [12]

Kynes' "water stealers" die "by the millions in each spice blow" and may be killed by even a "five-degree change in temperature". [17] He notes that "the few survivors entered a semidormant cyst-hibernation to emerge in six years as small (about three meters long) sandworms". [17] A small number of these then emerge into maturity as giant sandworms, to whom water is poisonous. [12] [13] [17] A "stunted worm" is a "primitive form . that reaches a length of only about nine meters". Their drowning by the Fremen makes them expel the awareness-spectrum narcotic known as the Water of Life. [17]

While sandworms are capable of eating humans, the latter do contain a level of water beyond the preferred tolerances of the worms. They routinely devour melange-harvesting equipment—mistaking the mechanical rhythm for prey—but they seem to derive actual nutrition only from sand plankton and smaller sandworms, and have no actual interest in the spice. Sandworms will also not attack sandtrout.

In Dune, the desert of Arrakis is the only known source of the spice melange, the most essential and valuable commodity in the universe. Melange is a geriatric drug that gives the user a longer life span, greater vitality, and heightened awareness. It can also unlock prescience in some subjects, which makes interstellar travel ("folding space") possible. [4] The harvesting of melange is therefore essential, but is also a highly dangerous undertaking due to the presence of sandworms. Rhythmic activity as minimal as normal walking on the desert surface of Arrakis attracts the territorial worms, which are capable of swallowing even the largest mining equipment whole. They are an accepted obstacle to spice mining, as any attempt to exterminate them would be prohibitively expensive, if not entirely futile. Harvesting is done by a gigantic machine called a Harvester, which is carried to and from a spice blow by a larger craft called a Carryall. The Harvester on the ground has four scouting ornithopters patrolling around it watching for wormsign, the motions of sand which indicate that a worm is coming. Melange is collected from the open sand until a worm is close, at which time the Carryall lifts the Harvester to safety. The Fremen, who base their entire industry around the sale of spice and the manufacture of materials out of spice, have learned to co-exist with the sandworms in the desert and harvest the spice manually for their own use and for smuggling off-planet.

Due to their size and territorial nature, sandworms can be extremely dangerous even to Fremen. The worms are attracted to—and maddened by—the presence of Holtzman force fields used as personal defense shields, and as a result these force fields are of little use on Arrakis. In Children of Dune it is noted that a weapon has been developed on Arrakis called a "pseudo-shield". [19] This device will attract and enrage any nearby sandworm, which will destroy anything in its vicinity. [19] The Fremen manage to develop a unique relationship with the sandworms. They learn to avoid most worm attacks by mimicking the motions of desert animals, moving with the natural sounds of the desert rather than rhythmic vibrations. However, they also develop a device known as a thumper with the express purpose of generating a rhythmic vibration to attract a sandworm. This can be used either as a diversion or to summon a worm to ride.

The Fremen have secretly mastered a way to ride sandworms across the desert. First, a worm is lured by the vibrations of a thumper device. When it surfaces, the lead worm-rider runs alongside it and snares one of its ring-segments with a special "maker hook". The hook is used to pry open the segment, exposing the soft inner tissue to the abrasive sand. To avoid irritation, the worm will rotate its body so the exposed flesh faces upwards, lifting the rider with it. Other Fremen may then plant additional hooks for steering, or act as "beaters", hitting the worm's tail to make it increase speed. A worm can be ridden for several hundred kilometers and for about half a day, at which point it will become exhausted and sit on the open desert until the hooks are released, whereupon it will burrow back down to rest. Worm-riding is used as a coming-of-age ritual among the Fremen, and Paul's riding and controlling a giant sandworm cements him as a Fremen leader. [21] Paul also uses worms for troop transport into the city during the Battle of Arrakeen after using atomic weapons to blow a hole in the Shield Wall. After the reign of Leto II, sandworms become un-rideable. The one exception is a young girl named Sheeana, an Atreides descendant who possesses a unique ability to control the worms and safely move around them.

Fremen also use the sharp teeth of dead sandworms to produce the sacred knives they call crysknives. Approximately 20 centimeters long, these hand-to-hand weapons are either "fixed" or "unfixed". An unfixed knife requires proximity to a human body's electrical field to prevent its eventual disintegration, while fixed knives are treated for storage. [22] Fremen tradition dictate that once a crysknife is drawn, it must not be sheathed until it has drawn blood. [4]

Original series Edit

By the time of the events of Dune (1965), humans have been harvesting melange from Arrakis for several thousand years. The indigenous Fremen regard the sandworms as divine, but to everyone else they are just deadly pests. Few people know of the sandworms' connection to the spice. [4] This is no longer the case in Children of Dune (1976), and numerous groups attempt to smuggle sandworms off Arrakis and transplant them to other planets so as to break the Atreides' monopoly on melange. In Children of Dune, Leto II consumes massive amounts of spice and allows many sandtrout to cover his body, the concentration of spice in his blood fooling them. This layer gives Leto tremendous strength, speed, and protection from mature sandworms, which mistake his sandtrout-covered body for a lethal mass of water. [19] He calls it a "living, self-repairing stillsuit of a sandtrout membrane", and soon notes that he is "no longer human". [19]

Gradually over the next 3,500 years, Leto not only survives, but also is transformed into a hybrid of human and giant sandworm. By the time of God Emperor of Dune (1981), he has exterminated all other sandworms, and his own transformation has modified his component sandtrout. When Leto allows himself to be assassinated, the sandtrout release themselves to begin the sandworm lifecycle anew subsequent offspring are tougher and more adaptable than their predecessors, allowing them to ultimately be more easily settled on other worlds, thus ensuring the survival of the sandworm species. Each one, according to Leto, carries in it a tiny pearl of his consciousness, trapped forever in an unending prescient dream. [23]

Over the next 1500 years, Arrakis (now called Rakis) is returned to a desert by the thriving sandworm cycle. Bene Gesserit Mother Superior Taraza becomes aware in Heretics of Dune (1984) that humanity is being limited by the prescient dream of Leto, and controlled by him through his worm remnants. She engineers the destruction of Rakis by the Honored Matres to free humanity, leaving one remaining worm to start the cycle anew. Taraza is killed her successor Darwi Odrade takes the worm to Chapterhouse. She submerges it in a spice bath to generate sandtrout, with the goal of terraforming their own planet Chapterhouse into another Dune, and later doing the same on other planets, with new worms and infinite potential for gathering spice.

Prequels and sequels Edit

In the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (1999–2004), the Tleilaxu initiate Project Amal, an early attempt to create synthetic melange to eliminate dependence upon Arrakis. They are fundamentally unaware, however, that melange production is part of the sandworm lifecycle, and the project is an abysmal failure.

In Sandworms of Dune, Brian Herbert and Anderson's 2007 conclusion to the original series, the Spacing Guild is manipulated into replacing its Navigators with Ixian navigation devices and cutting off the Navigators' supply of melange. Sure to die should they be without the spice, a group of Navigators commissions Waff, an imperfectly awakened Tleilaxu ghola, to create "advanced" sandworms able to produce the melange they so desperately require. He accomplishes this by altering the DNA of the sandtrout stage and creating an aquatic form of the worms, which are then released into the oceans of Buzzell. Adapting to their new environment, these seaworms quickly flourish, eventually producing a highly concentrated form of spice, dubbed "ultraspice". Meanwhile, sandworms are revealed to have survived the devastation of Rakis after all, by burrowing deep under the surface.

Dune (1984) Edit

In the 1984 David Lynch film Dune, the sandworms were designed by special effects modeler Carlo Rambaldi for a budgeted $2 million. [24] [25] Rambaldi had previously created the titular alien for the 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. [24] [25] The blue screen constructed for Dune 's special effects was thirty-five feet (11 m) high and 108 feet (33 m) wide, the largest at that time. [24] The sandworms were achieved using practical effect models, miniature sets and blue screens. [26] Several scales of sandworm models were created, operated by "worm wranglers" and pulled with cables to simulate motion. [26] The largest models, which were approximately 20 feet (7 m) long, allowed for wranglers to open the worms' mouths and crane their bodies up and down and from side to side. [26] The smaller versions were used for other movements, and for background action. [26]

Critics were generally not impressed with the film's effects. [27] [28] Roger Ebert called Lynch's sandworms "striking", but noted, "the movie's special effects don't stand up to scrutiny. The heads of the sand worms begin to look more and more as if they came out of the same factory that produced Kermit the Frog (they have the same mouths)." [29] Entertainment Weekly 's Sandra P. Angulo called the sandworms "embarrassingly phallic looking". [30] Daniel D. Snyder of The Atlantic was impressed by the "gargantuan" appearance of the sandworms thanks to the "staggering sense of scale" achieved by the miniature sets created by Emilio Ruiz del Río. [27] Though panning the film overall, Janet Maslin of The New York Times noted the "nice worm-fight at the end of the story." [31] Hoai-Tran Bui of /Film noted that "the popular image of the sandworm comes from David Lynch's 1984 film, which depicted the massive creatures as fleshy, phallic-looking monsters." [32]

Dune (2000) and Children of Dune (2003) Edit

The 2000 Sci Fi Channel miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune, and the 2003 sequel miniseries Frank Herbert's Children of Dune, employed computer-generated visual effects to create sandworms onscreen, [33] under the guidance of special effects supervisor Ernest Farino. [34] [35]

Critics praised the visual effects in both miniseries, [33] [35] [36] each of which won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special. [37] [38] Deborah D. McAdams of Broadcasting & Cable suggested that the images of "gigantic computer-generated sandworms munching down huge machines and people like popcorn" contributed to the 2000 miniseries' record-breaking ratings. [39]

Dune (2021) Edit

Regarding his 2021 film Dune, director Denis Villeneuve said, “We talked about every little detail that would make such a beast possible, from the texture of the skin, to the way the mouth opens, to the system to eat its food in the sand. It was a year of work to design and to find the perfect shape that looked prehistoric enough." [32]

Video games Edit

Besides film and television adaptations, the Dune franchise has been adapted into a series of computer and video games in which sandworms play a part. Sandworms are a featured element in the 1992 real-time strategy video game Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty, [40] primarily as destroyers of the player's spice Harvesters, assault tanks, and other equipment. [41] [42] In the game, sandworms are computer-controlled forces that lie dormant under the sand until either player- or computer-controlled units come within range, and they will attack indiscriminately. [43] [44] The sandworms can be damaged or destroyed by sonic blasts, a Death Hand explosion, a detonated Spice Bloom, or a self-destructing Devastator, and will disappear when they have been destroyed, reduced to half damage, or have eaten three units. [43] Sandworms do not appear until the third missions, and there may be two or three in play at once. [43] Sandworms also appear in Dune 2000 (1998). They behave somewhat differently than in the previous game, and are present from the first mission. Sandworms will disappear temporarily after devouring five vehicles, but eventually return. [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] Emperor: Battle for Dune (2001) features gameplay on four planets, and sandworms are a hazard on Arrakis. Players must also destroy a genetically engineered "Emperor Worm" to complete the game. [50] [51] [52] [53]

A line of Dune action figures from toy company LJN was released to lackluster sales in 1984. Styled after David Lynch's film, the collection included a poseable sandworm. [54] [55] Revell also produced a model kit of a sandworm complete with figures representing Fremen riders. [56]

The sandworms have been called "iconic" to the franchise, [12] [27] [57] and "synonymous with the Dune series", having appeared in nearly every novel, on several book covers, and in all of the television, film, and video game adaptations. [32] Hoai-Tran Bui of /Film noted that they are an "essential to the narrative of the story", [32] and Lindsey Romain of Nerdist deemed the creatures "extremely important to the plot and the very fiber of the Dune universe." [12]

William Touponce suggests that Herbert's depiction of larval sandworms (or sandtrout), which hold back water in the desert to maintain the arid conditions their sandworm vector requires to thrive, is "an analogy for a stage of consciousness [Paul's sister] Alia can feel. Some of the ancestral voices within her mind hold back dangerous forces that could destroy her." [21] Touponce also describes "the archetypal terrors of confronting Shai-Hulud, the giant sandworm guarding the treasure". [58]

Sibylle Hechtel analyzes the concept of sandworms in the essay "The Biology of the Sandworm" in The Science of Dune (2008). [59] [60] [61]


White Worm-like Creature That Eats Through Wood, Porcelain and Ceramic is a Mystery

“There appears to be a worm on the floor along with white dots that are eggs I guess,” states this reader, who thinks she may have found pinworms in her home. The worms in question appear to be white in color, with a flat body.

Our reader states that there was also a film ‘left behind by the worms, and that if she scrubbed it, she would find additional eggs. It was for that reason that she thought they were pinworms. Her question to us is if pinworms are able to infest one’s entire home, including one’s attic, and also if they can “eat into” wood, porcelain and ceramic. For our readers who do not know, pinworms are intestinal parasites most common in children. They can indeed infest a home as well as its residents, as they are capable of living outside and inside the body. Humans normally contract them during sleep, as pinworms will enter the body at night and crawl up the intestinal tract to lay more eggs. It is true that pinworms can also lay eggs outside of the body, but they are microscopic, and cannot be detected with the naked eye. Why our reader made the connection between an egg-filled film and pinworms we do not know, but we can tell our reader now that the film with the eggs was not created by a pinworm. Whether or not the worm in the photograph is a pinworm is another question, but assuming that this worm is the one leaving visible eggs behind, then we would say the worm is also not a pinworm.

That being said, if our reader has cause to believe that she, or anyone else in her household, is infected with pinworms, she should seek immediate medical counsel. As pinworms are a fairly common parasite, we would not put it past a GP or doctor to be able to identify and treat this, but given that doctors generally do not receive training within the field of parasitic infestations, our reader may still want to go the safe route of consulting a parasite specialist instead. A reader of ours has recommended Dr. Vipul Savaliya, founder of Infectious Disease Care (“IDCare”), and he has agreed to provide consultation with anyone who thinks they are experiencing parasite-related symptoms. His practice is in North Carolina, but our reader needs not be there to book a consultation with him. She can simply reach him and his office through his website at idcarepa.com. Alternatively, she could find her own specialist by Googling ‘infectious disease physician (name of her closest big city)’ or ‘travel disease doctor (name of her closest big city)’.

Now, regarding the white worm that is supposedly eating not only through wood, but porcelain and ceramic, we have no idea what this may be. There are plenty of white worm-like pests that eat through just wood, including the larvae of powderpost beetles, termites and wood-boring beetles. However, none of these really resemble the worm in the photo, nor do they eat ceramic and porcelain. Regardless, if our reader is experiencing an infestation of worms that are eating through her furniture, and potentially through the walls and foundations of her home, she needs to contact a professional to handle that. Treating worms that could potentially be all over the home by oneself is virtually impossible.

To conclude, it is unclear what the worm our reader found is, but it is clearly not a pinworm (if we assume that the eggs are from the worm). Now, although we have not heard of any worms that eat porcelain or ceramic, we do not know everything! Therefore, if any of our other readers know any worm-like organism of that sort, please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.


Watch the video: What is this worm like creature? (May 2022).