These Magical Animals Look Just Like Colorful Little Christmas Trees
The vast expanse of the world's oceans might seem like a dark and perilous place, full of creatures locked in a bitter struggle for survival in its murky depths. But while that is all actually true, thanks to one very conspicuous aquatic species in particular, the foreboding undersea world has a nice festive feel about, too.
Meet the Christmas tree worm - a stunning little animal whose look certainly lives up to its name.
This species, known scientifically as Spirobranchus giganteus, can be found living in subtropical and tropical marine regions throughout the world, often alongside coral. There, they amass colonies by building tube-like structures out of calcium carbonate in which they can hide from threats. But when they're out of the tubes is the time they really shine.
Each Christmas tree worm possesses two strikingly colorful spiral structures, called prostomial palps, that are covered in wispy tentacles which filter and collect food particles floating by. These are what give the animals their distinctive, holiday-themed appearance.
Unlike the Christmas trees for which their named, however, Spirobranchus giganteus are hardly fleeting. One study found that these little animals can live for up to 40 years.
That's a good thing too, because creatures this stunning are well-worth our appreciation year-round - like perfect lasting Christmas presents for our awestruck eyes.