The Bobbit Worm

There’s just something about the ocean that encourages the growth of monsters.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s all kinds of awful life crawling, shambling, stalking and soaring above the water too, but once you go beneath the waves it’s as though the natural order ceases, and Nature is free to unleash the worst nightmares she cooked up in her teenage goth phase.

The oceans have the colossal squid, the moray eel, the Japanese spider crab, the goblin shark and thousands upon thousands of other deep-seated animate phobias that I am certain to write about at some point or another, but none of them, not one, really compares to The Bobbit Worm.

No no no, BOBBIT worm. A Bobbit worm is much bigger than this guy.

The Bobbit Worm was named after Lorena Bobbit, a woman who in 1993 cut off the penis of her husband with a knife.

At this point, I imagine you’re scratching your head. Why would you name a worm after a woman who cut off someone’s Johnson?

Oh, right. The giant shaft-mangling scissor jaws. Gotcha.
Oh, right. The giant shaft-mangling scissor jaws. Gotcha.

Those stupidly menacing shears are part of a complex jaw structure called a pharynx, which turns inside out to make for more efficient snagging of prey when it snaps shut.

And boy, does it snap shut. The jaw strikes of a Bobbit Worm are often so powerful that fish are cut clean in half. No screwing around, just bam. Darth Mauled. Once hopelessly impaled on the fangs of the monster worm, the prey is then pulled down into the sand, where it is eaten, presumably in a horrifying manner.

I say presumably because, well, we don’t know what happens down there. No-one has ever directly observed the inside of a Bobbit Worm burrow during snack time.

But feel free to stick your hand in there and have a feel around for what’s happening. There’s plenty of curious scientists out there who, for some reason, haven’t done that yet.

They’re a real scourge of aquariums, often being responsible for the disappearances of fish and other animals, or the mysterious maiming and bisection of their tankmates. They bury themselves in the sand, forming a murder-burrow with only their heads and a few inches of body showing, and so can be impossible to find without dismantling the entire tank.

Oh, and attempts to bait one of these mystery-aquarium-killers using hooks on wire failed a few times in aquariums in Newquay, Cornwall and Woking, Surrey, after the worms in question sliced through the wire to evade capture.

This on its own is creepy enough, but I forgot to mention that they usually show up around 10 feet long, or 3 meters if you’re more one for shitting yourself in metric tons. They’re the thing that every monster worm in every fantasy or horror movie wishes it was, with a rainbow shell to boot.

They have five antennae on their heads dedicated to finding more living things to slice up and drag into the sand, their jaws turn inside out for better flesh-rending, they drag their prey into sinister warrens beneath the ground, beneath the sea.

Fuck this worm. I’m out.

(image credit for image 1 –, image 2 – (Bobbit Worm vs Lion Fish, image 3 – (Bobbit Worm Attack by Jason Isley, image 4 – Nadine Kalinauskas, Daily Buzz)


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