Researchers in Japan have found three new species of bristle worms. They are calling them “Demon Fire” worms because the researchers believe they resemble demons from Japanese folklore. They also are luminescent which adds to their supernatural appearance.
The new worms are part of a large family called Polychaetes. In general the worms are scavengers and are frequently placed in aquariums. They eat unused food, dead fish and other organic waste. Some bristle worms are carnivorous. These have a sharp proboscis which they use to puncture prey.
According to Live Science the “Demon Fire” worms have normal scientific names:
“Three new species of rare glow-in-the-dark worms that have a “striking resemblance” to demons described in folklore have been discovered in Japan.
The newfound species, named Polycirrus onibi, Polycirrus aoandon and Polycirrus ikeguchii, belong to a family of animals known as bristle worms, which are normally found in the shallow waters of Japanese rivers and streams. Researchers published their findings March 29 in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
The creatures give off a blue and purple luminescent glow so they appear like hazy will-o’-the-wisps at night — meaning that they may have provided inspiration for old tales of Japanese demons, or “yokai,” the study authors suggest in the paper. ” Italics and hyperlink in original
According to Smithsonian bristle worms are rather extraordinary. They have survived 5 mass extinctions. There are about 10,00 species. One reaches 10 feet long. The creatures are very mysterious and not well studied. Some have bizarre sex lives. AquariumSource.com says that 98 percent of brisle worms live in saltwater. The website says they are rather like sea-going earthworms.
Collectively they are part of the Polychaete family International Polychaete Day has been declared for July 1. It would have been the 80th birthday of Kristian Fauchald. Fauchald wtas a premier Smithsonian researcher who began studying theis worm family in 1979. In his career he identified almost 300 species and had 36 named after him.
In a lengthy remembrance Smithsonian said this:
“Polychaetologists around the world have been influenced by his teaching and his publications but Kristian learned just as much from them. He loved discussing polychaetes, philosophy and history whether in a formal class, during a break in a conference…”
The oceans of the world still have many secrets. We have reported on vast reservoirs of newly discovered life in Antarctica. We have also reported on the giant ice fish hatchery discovered under the Weddell Sea.