Newly Discovered Worm Has Eyes in Its Head and Bottom

Posted on June 19, 2019

Side view of Ampharete oculicirrata

Scientists have discovered a new worm at the bottom of the North Atlantic ocean that has eyes in its head and in its bottom. The researchers discovered the worm during a survey of the West Shetland Shelf Marine Protected Area.

The small 4mm worm has been given the scientific name Ampharete oculicirrata. It was discovered by researchers from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Marine Scotland Science and Thomson Environmental Consultants. The worm was identified by a team led by Ruth Barnich of Thomson Environmental Consultants, Julio Parapar from the University of La Coruña and Juan Moreira from the Autonomous University of Madrid.

A research paper on the new worm was published in the European Journal of Taxonomy. The paper says the worm is characterized by its "very small body size, thin and slender paleae, twelve thoracic and eleven abdominal uncinigers, presence of eyes both in the prostomium and the pygidium, the latter provided with a pair of long lateral cirri."

Jessica Taylor, Marine Evidence Advisor from JNCC, said in the announcement, "This new species is an exciting and interesting addition to the work we do in Marine Protected Areas. The fact that it was found in relatively shallow depths, relatively close to the Scottish coastline, shows just how much more there is to understand about the creatures that live in our waters. I'm excited about future JNCC and Marine Scotland surveys and what they may reveal. And it’s great that specimens of the new species have been acquired by National Museums Scotland and are available for future studies."

Long view of Ampharete oculicirrata


Image: National Museums Scotland/R. Barrich