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status: chewing on the end of my pencil
The UK population could be huge! I can reach plague numbers in local areas around my favourite foods!
My genome size is now unknown, but most bivalves have a C value of between 1-2, so probably half human size?
Our common ancestor lived around 575 million years ago, and probably looked a little like a worm!
I should be sequenced because...: I am very strange. I have a weird body shape, I can eat wood, and we know little about how I grow and survive! A genome would be a big help!
One sentence about me...: I was the scourge of the Royal Navy, but now I mainly munch on piers and jetties...
I am the Naval Tubeworm, Teredo navalis. Despite being called a worm, I am actually a bivalve mollusc, just like an oyster, clam or mussel! Instead of hiding inside my shell, I actually use it for tunnelling into wood. I make a burrow into the wood, eating a little tube for myself. This is a real pain for humans when I burrow into ships, houses and jetties, as the wood ends up looking like this!
Because of where I live, I have a very weird body shape. This allows me to stay safely inside my tube. My shell is at one end of my body, alongside my mouth – you can guess what is at the other end!
I was a huge problem for the Royal Navy. Their boats would fall to pieces when I ate into them. They had to cover the bottom of their ships with copper, a really expensive metal, just to stop me chewing into their ships!
Believe it or not, people like to eat me! In the Philippines I am eaten raw with vinegar or lime juice, chopped chilli and onions. I can also be eaten in a stew. Some people say I taste like milk or oysters. I say – ewww!
My genome could be a big help for understanding my biology, but also would be interesting for business! I can digest wood, and that is difficult. Learning how would enable us to make “biofuels” more efficiently – and these could be used to power our cars instead of petrol. So sequencing me would also be a big help to the environment!
So, vote for the shipworm!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
boring (into wood). But seriously, "pest", "weird" and, to some people, "delicious"
What's it like where you live?
dark! I live inside any wooden structure I can get my shell into.
What's your favourite food?
wood, wood and more wood! Oh, and boats! That is how I got my name
What's your family life like?
I start life as a boy, and become a girl when I get older. I have lots of kids, but am not a good parent - I release them all into the sea!
Are you endangered or threatened by anything?
Nope, not endangered - in fact I am a pest! I have spread around the world, carried on the things I am snacking on!
What's the best thing about you/interesting fact?
Wood isn't very nutritious, so I use my shell to chop it up, and I am home to millions of bacteria, which live inside my gills and help me eat it!
The champion of this species is...