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No. 14: Winter 1981 Supplement

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Worms with inside-out stomachs

The recently discovered tube worms, living near the hot water vents on the ocean bottom off the Galapagos, have no mouths or guts. Their bodies are covered with thousands of feathery tentacles, each packed with blood vessels. Apparently, the tube worms extract nutrients directly from the sea water and expel wastes the same way -- having in effect external stomachs. These worms, which may be many feet long, contain enzymes that permit them to extract carbon dioxide from the seawater and fix it much like plants do during photosynthesis. George Somero, at Scripps, estimates that the enzyme levels in the worms are similar to those in a spinach leaf.

(Anonymous; "15-Foot Sea Worm Has Plant Qualities," San Diego Evening Tribune, May 22, 1980. UPI dispatch)

Comment. This curious biological anomaly developed in an ecological niche where the primary energy source for sustaining life is geothermal rather than solar. How did this remarkable situation arise? Do the tube worms have relatives in the fossil record showing a step-by-step development of inside-out stomachs?

From Science Frontiers #14, Winter 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987