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Writer Fuel: Strange Sea Worms Have Butts That Grow a Brain

sea worm - deposit photos

Some marine worms have developed a strange reproduction strategy: They essentially grow a second worm on their rear ends, head and all. This bizarre twin then breaks off and swims away to mate with other swimming butts of the opposite sex.

In a study published Nov. 22 in Scientific Reports, researchers described exactly how Japanese green syllids (Megasyllis nipponica) reproduce in this very weird way.

Most of the 1,000 species of syllid worms live on the bottom of the ocean. When some species are ready to reproduce, they undergo major changes, developing more muscular bodies and structures that enable them to swim in the water column — meaning they can travel longer distances to find mates. Much of their body mass is converted to the production of eggs or sperm. This body form is known as an epitoke. The vast majority of species die after they reproduce.

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