Ramisyllis kingghidorahi is almost as impressive as its namesake.
The researchers spotted Ramisyllis kingghidorahi off the coast of Japan’s Sado Island in 2019. It’s the third known species of branching worm that reminded the scientists of one of Japan’s most famous kaiju (fictional giant monsters).
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Introduced in the 1964 film Ghidorah, King Ghidorah is considered Godzilla’s greatest nemesis. Ramisyllis kingghidorahi isn’t as intimidating, but it does share one incredible ability with its namesake.
Like other branching worms, Ramisyllis kingghidorahi has a single head attached to a body that splits off in an asymmetrical tangle of branches.
Branching worms live in natural canals of sea sponges. Researchers think their peculiar bodies may have evolved to let them expand through their habitat by forming new branches.
Other aspects of branching worms’ lives are even more mysterious. For example, Ramisyllis kingghidorahi is seen here digesting food, but scientists don’t know how they feed themselves and eat enough to keep their gigantic bodies nourished.
Ramisyllis kingghidorahi shares a common ancestor with a branching worm found in Australia, so for now, scientists are studying these two species to learn more.