A photo of a bizarre undersea creature that looks just like a human body part has recently gone viral.
The creature, a peanut worm, was discovered by a team of scientists from Museums Victoria in Australia. The team recently came back from a month-long expedition into the oceanic abyss off the Australian coast, where they found a variety of underwater organisms, including a faceless fish, a sea pig, a zombie worm, and a flesh-eating crustacean.
Thus far, the most interesting one has been the peanut worm, a type of marine worm that — at least in the above image — closely resembles a human penis.
IBTimes UK, which first reported on the curious sea creature, shared a photo of the peanut worm from the expedition. It quickly captured the public’s attention.
According to the outlet, the name “peanut worm” came from the fact that when threatened, these marine animals contract their long heads inwards into a shape like that of a peanut kernel. Peanut worms or sipunculid worms are actually a group of bilaterally symmetrical, unsegmented worms that consists of between 144 to 320 different species. They can reproduce both sexually and asexually. They are common in shallow waters, and can usually be found in discarded shells and burrows.
The team of explorers that found this particular peanut worm has just returned from a trip aboard the research vessel The Investigator. This month, they explored a part of the deep sea known as the eastern abyss — a habitat 4,00 meters below sea level, where countless mysterious creatures lurk.
The expedition first gained some level of popularity when the team released a photo of the faceless fish, one of the most peculiar creatures they found in the abyss. It was also a particularly rare one.
“Australia’s deep sea environment is larger in size than the mainland, and until now, almost nothing was known about life on the abyssal plain,” Dr Tim O’Hara, the expedition’s Chief Scientist and Museums Victoria’s Senior Curator of Marine Invertebrates, said.
“We’re really excited about the discoveries that we’ve made and are thrilled that we can now share them with the Australian and international public.”
About a third of the creatures the team brought back are species that have never been seen before. They will be sent to different laboratories across Australia to be examined. Some of the creatures will be included in an exhibit in the Melbourne Museum at an unspecified date