Sat, Dec 24, 2011 - Page 13 News List

Christmas tree worms look like Christmas trees
聖誕樹蟲 長得像聖誕樹

The spirobranchus giganteus is quite colorful, and looks remarkably like a miniature Christmas tree, hence its common name in English is Christmas tree worm.

Photo Courtesty of Lee Chih-ying

Surrounded by ocean, Taiwan is rich in ecological resources, including a resplendently unique organism that at first looks like a miniature Christmas tree. The common English name for the spirobranchus giganteus is Christmas tree worm. What is most surprising is that the Christmas tree worm is an annelid and a distant relative of the soil-covered earthworm.

The Christmas tree worm embeds itself inside the top part of choral reefs, and secretes a calcium-rich tube around its body, which serves as the worm’s home and protection. Dwelling inside the top of the coral reef, it subsists by filter feeding. The most beautiful part of the worm are its two Christmas-tree shaped “crowns,” which are actually highly modified palps located at the front of the mouth that allow any prey trapped inside of them to be transported to the worm’s mouth, but they are also used for respiration.






1. distant relative n. phr.

遠房親戚 (yuan3 fang2 qin1 qi1)

例:I just found out one of my good friends is actually a distant relative.


2. earthworm n.

蚯蚓 (qiu1 yin3)

例: There are always so many earthworms on the sidewalk whenever it rains.


3. secrete v.

分泌 (fen1 mi4)

例: The human body secretes sweat from two kinds of sweat glands.


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