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Shipworm-like creature that eats stone and excrete sand discovered by scientists

Scientists said that this creature has been the bane of sailors for centuries because they use their shells, which are covered by teeth, to bore holes into wooden boats.

Shipworm-like creature that eats stone and excrete sand discovered by scientists
Image Courtesy: sciencemagazine.org

Scientists have conducted a detailed study of a strange shipworm-like creature that eats through stone and excretes sand. First discovered in 2016, the Lithoredo abatanica is thick and white. According to scientists, this creature can grow up to a metre long.

Scientists said that this creature has been the bane of sailors for centuries because they use their shells, which are covered by teeth, to bore holes into wooden boats. Scientists said that Lithoredo abatanica is different from shipworm because it eats rock and its teeth are stronger and thicker than standard shipworms. The scientists said that this species is different from common shipwrom because it bores by ingesting rock.

The findings of the study are published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal. The scientists said that this unusual creature was first discovered on the island of Bohol in the Phillipines. The creature was first seen by scientists while it burrowing through rocks in a freshwater river.

New York Times reported that the scientists started the search for this creature after hearing reports of a mysterious shipworm in Abatan River on Bohol Island. Reuben Shipway and Daniel Distel of Northeastern University, members of the Philippine Mollusk Symbiont International Collaborative Biodiversity Group are credited with discovering this unusual creature. While the scientists were checking the bottom of a river they saw huge chunks of sandstone with holes in them. Upon close examination, the scientists found that twin flags of shipworm siphons were protruding from some of rocks, New York Times reported. It is to be noted that siphons are used by shipworms to excrete.

The scientists also discovered that cecum, an organ which is common across shipworms, was not there in the new species. The guts of this unusal species were, however, were full of fragments of stone and after research it was found that the stones found in the guts of these shipworm-like creatures were the same in which they were living.