Marine Worms with Glowing Bombs

More security stories from the natural world:

During chase scenes, movie protagonists often make their getaway by releasing some sort of decoy to cover their escape or distract their pursuer. But this tactic isn’t reserved for action heroes—some deep-sea animals also evade their predators by releasing decoys—glowing ones.

Karen Osborn from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography has discovered seven new species of closely related marine worms (annelids) that use this trick. Each species pack up to four pairs of “bombs” near their heads—simple, fluid-filled globes that the worms can detach at will. When released, the “bombs” give off an intense light that lasts for several seconds.

My two previous posts on the topic.

Posted on August 28, 2009 at 6:12 AM5 Comments


BF Skinner August 28, 2009 6:45 AM

Ira had this story on NPR Science Friday last week and there’s some video here http_//www_sciencefriday_com/.

But I like the notion that Bruce has written twice before on “Marine Worms with Glowing Bombs”.

As folk with security interests we should be well rounded.

Clive Robinson August 28, 2009 9:28 AM

Why “bombs” as oposed to decoys?

So we have “worms” natural “Electromagnetic Counter Measures” (ECM”

The question then arises is there a preditor with some sort of Counter Counter Measure (CCM)?

Using say a different part of the EM spectrum.

TS August 28, 2009 11:46 AM

I was wondering about the “bombs” as well; the obvious analogy is chaff used by aircraft and noisemakers dropped by subs.

But maybe it’s more than a decoy? If the light is intense enough, maybe it actually disables the attacker, not just distract it. In which case “bomb” might be more appropriate.

Tanuki August 28, 2009 2:10 PM

A biological analogy to the flares fired by aircraft when targetted by heat-seeking missiles.

Or the “Autotomy” reaction in some lizards where they shear off part of their tail when pursued by a predator (the sheared-off tailpiece then twitches violently to draw the predator’s attention while the now-slightly-shorter reptile slinks away quietly).

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