An 8-inch-long marine worm that lives in the waters near Antarctica has an oval body ringed with shiny golden bristles and topped with a sharp-toothed maw. It somewhat resembles a decoration for the Christmas season — if holiday ornaments included bulbous, extendable throats tipped with pointy teeth.
The unusual creature is Eulagisca gigantea, and though it recently circulated online in photos that appeared on social media, it is more frequently found in the Southern Ocean waters, near Antarctica.
E. gigantea belongs to a class of marine worms called polychaetes, also known as bristle worms (their name means “many bristles” in Latin). The group’s bristles can have a range of uses — swimming, crawling along the ocean floor, or even for defense, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).