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Christmas Tree Worm Embraces The Holidays Year-Round

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Put aside your cravings for celebrity gossip for one moment and gaze upon Mother Nature’s holiday gift to the planet 365 days of the year.

The aptly Christmas Tree worm does not care if it’s 10 days until Santa shoots down the chimney or 200. It features two chromatically-hued spiral structures that are most commonly the only thing seen by divers. In actuality, these multicolored spirals are merely the worm’s highly-derived respiratory structures.

Unlike your Christmas tree, these beautiful spirals are are gorgeous death traps that serve one purpose: catching prey and pushing it towards the mouth. “Each spiral is actually composed of feather-like tentacles called radioles, which are heavily ciliated which allows any prey that are trapped in them to be transported straight towards the worm’s mouth. While they are primarily feeding structures, S. giganteus also uses its radioles for respiration. It is because of this that the structures are commonly called “gills”.

Check out the photos below for more shots of this incredible holiday-themed creature.


Photo credit: Flickr (divemasterking2000, prilfish, Tim Sheerman-Chase, robanhk, Alain76, michelle’s blue planet)

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