Meet Glycera dibranchiatathe, the venemous bloodworm

I recently learned about a horrifying creature called the venomous bloodworm. What’s that, you say? Are you sure you want to know? It’s a worm that has a proboscis that emerges out of the front of its head, and this proboscis holds four copper fangs that it uses to bite its prey and inject poison. Fun huh? LiveScience has more info:

A venomous bloodworm species grows bizarre, deadly metal teeth, and now scientists know how: with a single, simple protein that transforms copper deposits located at the bottom of the seafloor into fearsome fangs.

Bloodworms (Glycera dibranchiata) are segmented, bright-red marine worms that can grow to be 14 inches (35 centimeters) long and have 0.08-inch-long (2-millimeters) needle-like teeth made from a mixture of protein, melanin and 10% copper, the highest concentration in any animal.

Bloodworms live in shallow tidal flats and hunt by burrowing into sand and ambushing anything they are able to swallow. When a bloodworm is close enough to strike, it inverts its digestive system — which includes its teeth — launching its guts out of its body like a torpedo at its target. Upon contact, the worm’s jaw clamps shut and injects its victim with a deadly venom that contains 32 different types of toxins, paralyzing the prey in preparation for being eaten alive.

This creature is fascinating! I needed to know more, so I found a couple of videos online that feature the bloodworm in all its terrifying glory. Here’s a two-part episode of “Beyond the Tide,” created by the Brave Wilderness channel. They describe the episode like this:

On this episode of Beyond the Tide, Coyote goes digging for Bloodworms! Just below the surface of the mudflats on the Eastern Seaboard lives one of the only venomous marine worms in the world…the creepy and bizarre Bloodworm! Welding a toothy proboscis to strike their unsuspecting prey this creature uses its copper fangs to inject a toxin that paralyzes its victims so it can slurp them up for dinner. YIKES! It goes without saying when it comes to the venomous bloodworms we know for a FACT that they will strike under the mud, but will they bite a human?…and if so, just how bad is the bite?! Get ready to find out!

In Part One, you’ll see Coyote Peterson from the Brave Wilderness team working with Anthony Knowlton, a professional licensed bloodworm digger, to find bloodworms in the mudflats of Maine. Coyote explains in the episode that bloodworming is a huge part of Maine’s fishing economy, as the worms are sold as bait. On a good day, diggers like Anthony can haul in a thousand worms. At about 10:30, you can see the bloodworms they collected, and at about 12:30 you can see some of them up close—and see one shooting its proboscis out of the front of its head. In Part Two, at about 4:52, you can see one of the worms using its fangs to bite and hold onto the finger of Mark, another member of the Brave Wilderness crew. Horrifying!

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