Swima bombiviridis is the type species of the genus Swima, which was only described in 2009. Swima bombiviridis and its close relatives are pelagic marine polychaete worms spending most or all of their life living in the deep sea at depths greater than 1800 meters. Some, like S. bombiviridis, live well above the bottom and presumably never land and are exceptional swimmers, hence the generic name. The common name for this species is the ‘green bomber’ owing to a series of green spheres attached just behind the head that are easily shed by the animal when it is disturbed. These are also the basis for the specific epithet, bombiviridis, which is Latin for green bombs. Once detached, the bombs will glow with green light for up to a minute. Swima bombiviridis belongs to the polychaete family Acrocirridae. Nearly all other acrocirrids are benthic, living in sediments or under rocks from shallow water down to the deep sea. An evolutionary analysis of acrocirrids has shown that Swima bombiviridis and its pelagic relatives evolved from benthic acrocirrid ancestors and share many morphological features with other acrocirrids, although some features appear to have evolved to suit their pelagic lifestyle. Like its benthic relatives, Swima bombiviridis has a pair of grooved palps that it presumably uses for feeding. However, while other acrocirrids usually have four pairs of elongate branchiae (gills) behind the head that are easily detachable, in S. bombiviridis and some of its other pelagic relatives these gills appear to have been evolutionarily transformed to become detachable bioluminescent orbs, the ‘bombs’. These may well not function as branchiae any more and instead these animals have evolved new structures that appear to be branchiae. Swima and its swimming relatives also have elongate paddle-like chitinous chaetae in bundles along their bodies that are quite different from those of their benthic relatives and are almost certainly for use in swimming. (Osborn et al. 2009; Osborn et al. 2011; Osborn and Rouse 2011)
- Osborn, K.J.; Haddock, S.H.D.; Pleijel, F.; Madin, L.P.; Rouse, G.W. (2009). Deep-sea, swimming worms with luminescent "bombs". Science (Wash.) 325(5943): 964 http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=sourcedetails&id=132662
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Swima bombiviridis
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
Swima bombiviridis is a worm species that lives in the deep ocean. It is also known as the Green Bomber Worm or Bombardier Worm. This deep ocean pelagic (free-swimming) annelid has modified bioluminescent gills that can be cast off from an individual. These discarded gills somewhat resemble green "bombs" that remain illuminated for several seconds after they have been discarded. It is thought that this is a defensive mechanism rather than reproductive, as it is seen in both mature and juvenile individuals. This species was the first of its genus, Swima, to be discovered, and was the only one with a formal scientific name as of 2010. The genus name, Swima, is derived from the Latin, referring to the animal's ability to swim. The species name, bombiviridis, is derived from the Latin prefix bombus, meaning humming or buzzing (from which the English word bomb is derived), and the suffix viridis, which is Latin for the color green. Swima bombiviridis therefore translates to "swimming green bomber".
- Osborn KJ, Haddock SHD, Pleijel F, Madin LP, Rouse GW (2009). "Deep-sea, swimming worms with luminescent "bombs"". Science 325 (5943): 964. doi:10.1126/science.1172488.
- Moskowitz, Clara (20 August 2009). "Sea Creature Releases Glowing Decoy 'Bombs'". LiveScience. Retrieved 2009-11-14.
- International Institute for Species Exploration (2010). "Bombardier Worm". Top 10 New Species – 2010. Tempe, Arizona: Arizona State University.
- Osborn KJ, Rouse GW (2010). "Phylogenetics of Acrocirridae and Flabelligeridae". Zoologica Scripta 40 (2): 204–219. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2010.00460.x.
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