An IRL version of the Return of the Jedi’s terrifyingly toothy Sarlacc has been identified, and it’s called a Penis Worm. Jabba the Hutt’s dune-dwelling beast struck fear into the heart of Boba Fett with its circular mouth, groping tentacles, and multiple rows of teeth, and now, scientists at the University of Bristol have identified a real-life worm that bears an uncanny resemblance to it. And yes, it looks like a dick, only with a savage mouth.
The parallel was drawn by macroevolutionary biologist Jakob Vinther, Ph.D., whose research on fossils of a giant Sarlacc-like mouth found in China led him and his team to identify its owner, an ancient three-foot-long creature known as the Pambdelurion. “The mouth is a spitting image of the Sarlacc from Star Wars,” he said in a release accompanying his paper in the journal Paleontology, published Monday. The Pambdelurion, the paper notes, was a primitive relative of arthropods with a mouth exactly like that of today’s priapulids, better known in common parlance as penis worms.
The water-dwelling creatures are so nicknamed because, well, just look at them:
And a closer look at their mouths show that Vinther’s analysis is spot-on. Penis worm mouths are characterized by their “rings of teeth” and “plates,” which the Pambdelurion Vinther studied also displayed in very similar configurations. These similarities allowed the team to draw an evolutionary relationship between the two creatures and muse about their relationship to George Lucas’s fictional creation.
If the Sarlacc were not an imaginary beast, it would most likely have been related to the now-extinct Pambedelurion and penis worms as well. They’ve all got the same “circlets of teeth,” “radially-arranged oral plates,” and “pharyngeal teeth,” as the Palaeontology paper notes. But penis worms — and possibly the Pambedelurion — are not sand-bound, like the Sarlacc; they’re known to use their mouths not only to eat but for locomotion, hooking their teeth onto fixed objects in order to drag their phallic bodies around.
Had Boba Fett been up against a penis worm instead of a Sarlacc, he wouldn’t have survived half as long.