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Top 10 - 2010

Bombardier Worm

(Swima bombiviridis, second image shows the "bombs") © 2005 K. J. Osborn

Name:  Swima bombiviridis

Common Name:  Green bombers

Family:  Acrocirridae

How it made the Top 10:  This deep-sea annelid is a “bomb”-bearing species.  It has modified gills that can be cast off from an individual.  These "bombs" illuminate for several seconds with green bioluminescence.  It is thought that this is a defensive mechanism rather than reproductive, as it is seen in both mature and juvenile individuals.

Reference:  Osborn, K.J., S.H.D. Haddock, F. Pleijel, L.P. Madin and G.W. Rouse. 2009. Deep-sea, swimming worms with luminescent “bombs.” Science 325:964.

Type Material:  Holotype and paratypes – Benthic Invertebrate Collection of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, California.

Type Locality:  USA, California, collected off the central coast at 36º 19.80' N, 122º 53.99' W.

Etymology:  Genus - "Named for members ability to swim. The name is treated as an arbitrary combination of letters and is designated as feminine by the addition of the Latin singular, first declension, nominative ending -a." Specific epithet - "Named for the common name used for the group, green bombers. Bombus is the Latin root meaning humming or buzzing from which the English word bomb is derived. Viridis is Latin for green."

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