Strangeness of the Living: This nightmarish sea worm has razor-sharp copper fangs

Glycera dibranchiataa name that surely means nothing to you, yet this species sea ​​worm is worth knowing. Not for its beauty, but rather for its nightmarish side. G.dibranchiata has a jaw adorned with four sharp, sharp hook-like fangs. The creature uses them to attach itself to its prey – it is carnivorous and its body turns pale red after its meal, hence the English nickname ” bloodworm (blood worm in French) – and inject them with venom meant to kill them. The bite is said to be painful even to humans, but this sea worm prefers to feed on other worms, Piscesof shellfish or even birds.

Herbert Waite, biologist, studies this friendly worm For almost 20 years. ” They are very unpleasant worms in that they are moody and easily irritated. When they meet another wormthey fight using their jaws of copper like weapons “says the scientist. In his laboratory at the University of California at Santa Barbara, he is interested in the particular composition of the teeth of G.dibranchiata. Indeed, these are made up of a high copper content, melanin and of protein. Where does this copper come from? From sediment marine in which the worm buries itself and spends most of its time. A protein catalysis a set of complex reactions that cannot be reproduced in the laboratory to transfer copper from the environment to the fangs of G.dibranchiata. The terrible jaw of the worm is solid and resistant, it does not renew itself during its five years of life.


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