Mouth-Fighting is Scientific, If You Don’t Like It, You Can Mouth-Fight Me

Photo from the article by Ryutaro Goto / Courtesy A. Richard Palmer.

Meet the Noisy, Head-Butting Marine Worms That Live Near Japan

It appears this “Strange Critters” segment is becoming a regular thing for the R.A.D. series (see the argonaut oceanic octopus featured a couple weeks ago). This week we’ve got a tiny (<3cm) deep sea worm engaging in what scientists are with totally straight faces calling “mouth-fighting” – and making a lot of noise while doing it. We’re talking 157 decibels of dueling worm pops and snaps, which may not sound like much until you consider that this is all underwater (and a jet ski only generates about 125 decibels underwater). As to how the entirely soft-bodied, translucent worms accomplish this? Still a mystery, and understandably so given this species was only discovered in 2017 and makes its home within deep sea sponges more than 500 feet below the surface. The idea is these worms might create a bubble that then bursts (much like snapping shrimp), but it’s just theory at this point. R.A.D.ness is 100% confirmed, however.

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