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This Worm Looks Like A Penis

And it has teeth.

Posted on May 8, 2015, at 7:24 p.m. ET

This is a Priapulid. Its informal but demonstrably more descriptive name is the penis worm.

It's pretty fierce. It can actually turn its mouth and throat inside-out, exposing a jagged array of gnarly teeth, which it uses to drag itself across the sea-floor or devour its prey.The throat has been described as resembling a cheese grater.
Bruno C. Vellutini / Via ceb.wikipedia.org

It's pretty fierce. It can actually turn its mouth and throat inside-out, exposing a jagged array of gnarly teeth, which it uses to drag itself across the sea-floor or devour its prey.

The throat has been described as resembling a cheese grater.

Penis worms are kind of like this toy. If this toy had sharp teeth on its inside and wanted to eat you, that is.

SquishyMart / Via squishymart.com

This is how they move around:

Geology, August 2010, v. 38, p. 711-714 (Jean Vannier et al 2009) / Via geology.gsapubs.org

There are actually around 16 species of penis worms alive today. Don't worry though, they are generally confined to the types of marine environments in which most other things can't survive.

Shunkina Ksenia / Via en.wikipedia.org

The real time to worry about penis worms would have been 500 million years ago, during the Cambrian.

According to paleontologist Martin Smith, back then "they were fearsome beasts, and extremely successful ones at that."In fact, they provide us with the earliest evidence of cannibalism. Some penis worm fossils show bits of other penis worm fossils inside of them. These flesh-eating beasts would eat anything and everything around them.
Alex Kasprak for BuzzFeed

According to paleontologist Martin Smith, back then "they were fearsome beasts, and extremely successful ones at that."

In fact, they provide us with the earliest evidence of cannibalism. Some penis worm fossils show bits of other penis worm fossils inside of them. These flesh-eating beasts would eat anything and everything around them.

The fossil record shows that penis worms were everywhere back then.

Penis worms were some of the earliest animals to splash onto the scene during a massive expansion of new life forms called the Cambrian explosion.
Martin Smith / Via cam.ac.uk

Penis worms were some of the earliest animals to splash onto the scene during a massive expansion of new life forms called the Cambrian explosion.

Penis worms have been in the news this week because scientists recently used their microscopic fossil teeth to propose a new (ancient) species of penis worm.

Tom Harvey

They are also in the news because they look so damn cute, presumably.

Smokeybjb / Via en.wikipedia.org

Yay penis worms!

Viacom

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