Gigantic Deepwater Worm Eel Discovered in Verde Island Passage

Posted on December 22, 2014

Gigantic Deepwater Worm Eel

The Gigantic Deepwater Worm Eel was discovered in the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines. The worm eel was named Pylorobranchus hearstorum after William and Margaret Hearst who funded the expedition. It is one of 221 new species described by the California Academy of Sciences in 2014.

The worm eel is the largest of its kind. It is about 50 inches long from head to tail. This makes it about twice as long as other known worm eels. It is also about three times heavier than other worm eel species.

The female specimen was discovered in 2011 by aquatic biologist Dr. John McCosker. The listing for the creature on fishbase says it has needle-like teeth. The worm eel has a brownish black body color.

McCosker says in a statement, "Some might be less than thrilled to have a gigantic worm eel named in their honor, but the Hearsts were delighted. People don't think of eels as fish, but indeed they are! This discovery reminds us that there are many deep water creatures yet to be discovered, in the Philippines and beyond."

Another unique new species announced this year is the Hero Ant which is named for how it protects its nests. Malagidris sofina defends its nest from invaders through a behavior called cliff-jumping. A defending ant will tackle an intruder and take itself and the invader over the side of the nest.

You can read the complete report of species discovered in 2014 by researchers from the California Academy of Sciences here.

Photo: Dave Catania at the California Academy of Sciences