The 13th Floor

This Spiny Alien Invader Lives Much Closer Than You Think

In the video below, you’ll see a large, slithering creature — with no discernible head or tail — wriggling up from beneath a wooden pier. YouTube user Stas Kanevsky doesn’t provide any background for the clip apart from the title, which describes the purplish-brown “alien” as a “Bristle Worm.”

Not only is this probably a correct assessment, but this strangely compelling thing is one of literally billions of such sea worms, known as polychaetes. Scientists have confirmed that over 10,000 species of polychaetes exist, and are by far the dominant life form in virtually every ocean on Earth.

Image Credit: M.J. Schleiden/Wikimedia Commons
Image Credit: M.J. Schleiden/Wikimedia Commons

Some of these animals are quite beautiful in their natural habitat, appearing in a rainbow of different colors (some even glow in the dark). There are species with legs, some which tunnel under the sand, others with paddle-like extremities like the one in the clip, moving through the water in a wave-like action.

There’s even a species nicknamed “Zombie Worm” (scientific name Osedax), pictured below, which secretes a flesh-dissolving acid! (Don’t worry, they only eat the bones of dead whales… as far as we know, anyway.)

Osedax

They’re also tough little buggers, having survived no less than five mass extinctions of life throughout the planet’s history. Even now, experts are still discovering new data about these amazing creatures.

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