Science

Nature: Branching worm from Japan is named after Godzilla’s three-headed nemesis, King Ghidorah

A species of branching worm — only the third ever discovered — has been named after King Ghidorah, a three-headed, two-tailed kaiju from the Godzilla franchise.

Found on Japan‘s Sado Island, Ramisyllis kingghidorahi was described by an international team of researchers led from the University of Göttingen.

Branching worms are bizarre marine beasties that — unlike King Ghidorah — have just one head, but a body that branches over and over into multiple posteriors.

They can be found living inside the internal canals of certain sea sponges. 

Scroll down for videos

A species of branching worm (pictured) — only the third ever discovered — has been named after King Ghidorah, a three-headed, two-tailed monster from the Godzilla franchise

Found on Japan's Sado Island, Ramisyllis kingghidorahi was described by an international team of researchers led from the University of Göttingen. Pictured: King Ghidorah, left, with Godzilla, right, on a poster for the 2019 film 'Godzilla: King of the Monsters'

Found on Japan’s Sado Island, Ramisyllis kingghidorahi was described by an international team of researchers led from the University of Göttingen. Pictured: King Ghidorah, left, with Godzilla, right, on a poster for the 2019 film ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

Branching worms are bizarre marine beasties that have just one head, but sport a body that branches into multiple posteriors. They can be found living inside the internal canals of certain sea sponges. Pictured, with the posterior end of the worm seen on the surface of the sponge

Branching worms are bizarre marine beasties that have just one head, but sport a body that branches into multiple posteriors. They can be found living inside the internal canals of certain sea sponges. Pictured, with the posterior end of the worm seen on the surface of the sponge

The new worm was originally discovered by researchers in Japan, who approached biodiversity expert Maria Teresa Aguado of the University of Göttingen, Germany, and her colleagues to help study it.

‘King Ghidorah is a branching fictitious animal that can regenerate its lost ends, so we thought this was an appropriate name for the new species of branching worm,’ Professor Aguado said. 

There are now three known species of branching worm. Both R. kingghidorahi and ‘R. multicaudata’, which was identified in 2012 off the north Australian coast, live in stony sponges that can be found in shallow waters.

In contrast, ‘Syllis ramosa’ — which was found in the Philippines back in 1879 — lives within deep-sea glass sponges.

For a long time, Professor Aguado noted, ‘the first worm was thought to be unique.’

‘We were astonished to find another of these bizarre creatures with only one head and a body formed from multiple branching.’

‘This discovery reveals a higher diversity of these tree-like animals than anyone expected,’ the biologist added.

Molecular comparisons of the three worms reveal that the two shallow-water species share a common ancestor — one the team believe originated the asymmetrical, branching body pattern and was probably already adapted to live in corals.

At the same time, however, they also exhibit a high degree of genetic divergence and have significant difference in the shapes of certain body segments.

The team added that the ability to grow new rear segments throughout their lives — a feat typical of many worms — along with the ability to regenerate and produce new segments during reproduction may have facilitate the evolution of branching. 

'King Ghidorah is a branching fictitious animal that can regenerate its lost ends, so we thought this was an appropriate name for the new species of branching worm,' Professor Aguado said

‘King Ghidorah is a branching fictitious animal that can regenerate its lost ends, so we thought this was an appropriate name for the new species of branching worm,’ Professor Aguado said

There are now three known species of branching worm. Both R. kingghidorahi (pictured) and 'R. multicaudata', which was identified in 2012 off the north Australian coast, live in stony sponges that can be found in shallow waters. In contrast, 'Syllis ramosa' — which was found in the Philippines back in 1879 — lives within deep-sea glass sponges

There are now three known species of branching worm. Both R. kingghidorahi (pictured) and ‘R. multicaudata’, which was identified in 2012 off the north Australian coast, live in stony sponges that can be found in shallow waters. In contrast, ‘Syllis ramosa’ — which was found in the Philippines back in 1879 — lives within deep-sea glass sponges

Despite having been known for more than a hundred years, branching worms still harbour many mysteries yet to be unravelled.

‘Scientists don’t yet understand the nature of the relationship between the branching worm and its host sponge,’ explained Professor Aguado. 

‘Is it a symbiotic relationship where both creatures somehow benefit?’ she asked.

‘And how do the worms manage to feed to maintain their huge bodies having just one tiny mouth in their single head?’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Organisms Diversity & Evolution

GODZILLA EXPLAINED 

Pictured: Godzilla on the rampage

Pictured: Godzilla on the rampage

Godzilla first roared onto our screens in October 1954, when he was woken from his slumber and given terrible power by through exposure to a nuclear bomb test.

Rampaging through Tokyo, Godzilla sought revenge against mankind for destroying its deep-water ecosystem.

Godzilla served as a cautionary metaphor against the indiscriminate destructive power of nuclear weapons and a symbol of nuclear holocaust from a Japanese perspective.

Eight months before Godzilla premiered, a US nuke test on Bikini Atoll released dangerous levels of fallout over hundreds of miles.

This caused acute radiation sickness on a Japanese trawler and tainted tuna that reached Japanese homes.

It is noticeable that the prehistoric behemoth has almost consistently been growing in size across the subsequent 34 films in the Godzilla franchise.


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button