Researchers just got their first chance to study a bizarre worm that lives in mangrove swamps. it’s a species of ship worm that grows up to 1.55m (5ft) in length and 6cm (2.3in) in diameter.
A giant ship worm is a bivalve, like a clam or an oyster and it has its own shell the shell was usually the only part of the animal ever recovered because researchers didn’t know where it lived until now.
It burrows into the mud in shallow lagoons full of rotting wood for most ship worms rotting wood is lunch but the giant ship worm doesn’t even have to eat. It doesn’t have to eat anything instead it gets energy from symbiotic bacteria that live in its kills
The bacteria use hydrogen sulphide from the rich mud in the swamps as fuel and their release organic carbon is waste. It’s more than enough to keep the ship worm alive. it works so well that its own digestive tract has atrophied from disuse. we don’t see animals switch away from actual food all that often. it seems to happen most in extreme environments and with hosts that don’t have to move much. The two worms that live near hydrothermal vents rely on bacteria for their food too