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Third Species of Branching Worm Discovered in Japan

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A third species of branching syllid worm is found in shallow waters at Sado Island, Japan. The branching worm is named Ramisyllis kingghidorahi, which refers to King Ghidorah, the two-tailed and three-headed opponent of Godzilla.

The worm is the second within the genus Ramisyllis — living inside an undescribed species of the sponge from genus Petrosia. Up till now only two branching species of segmented worms are identified. This modified physiology is the third exposure among more than 20,000 species of annelids (ringed or segmented worms) The other two bifurcating segmented creatures are Ramisyllis Ramosa and Ramisyllis Multicaudata.

Japanese researchers have originally discovered the kinggidorahi species. The marine biologists then approached biodiversity expert Maria Teresa Aguado of the University of Göttingen, Germany.

Aguado and her colleagues commented on this discovery, 'We were astonished to find another of these bizarre creatures with only one head and a body formed from multiple branching.'

The worms with one head and multiple branches live inside the canals of host sponges. Professor Aguado was still unclear about the host-worm relationship,

'Scientists don’t yet understand the nature of the relationship between the branching worm and its host sponge,'

As a matter of fact, Ramisyllis kingghidorahi and 'Ramisyllis multicaudata', live in stony sponges found in shallow waters. Conversely, Ramisyllis' Ramosa' abides in the body of deep-sea glass sponges.R.Ramosa was found in the Philippines back in 1879 whereas R.multicaudata was identified at the north Australian coast in 2012.

These creatures can grow new segments throughout their lives. Along with this ability, the branching worms might regenerate their segments during reproduction. This dual segmentation may have supported the development of branches.