While new species of animal are discovered all the time, it's not every day that we stumble across one as fascinating as this.
With each passing day, it feels as if we hear news about humankind venturing a little further beyond our tiny blue planet. The belief is that we have discovered everything there is to discover down here on Earth, so its time to up the ante when it comes to exploring the rest of the universe. Truth be told, we still have an awful lot to learn about things down here.
That is evident from the new species we continue to discover. What makes some of those species even more fascinating than the others is the fact that they can often feel as if they came from outer space. Take the lithoredo abatanica, for instance. Earlier this year, the brand new species of shipworm was discovered in a river in the Philippines. However, it was different from any other shipworm discovered before it, reports Vice.
Regular shipworms eat wood and have been a thorn in the paw of sailors for years. However, this new mollusk doesn't consume wood at all. Instead, it eats and digests rock and poops it out as sand. Pretty cool, huh? It's currently unclear how exactly the creature turns the rock into sand, and whether it actually gets any nutritional benefit from doing so.
Despite only recently being discovered, researchers have already determined that these mollusks, which measure at just a few inches long, have a drastic effect on the ecosystem around them. Not only do tiny creatures set up shop in the tunnels they create, but after years of gnawing away at riverbeds and depositing the rock as sand, the course of the rivers in which they live can change.
It turns out that locals in the Philippines have known about the existence of these translucent rock eaters for a while. Some actually eat them, and many species of shipworm are considered a delicacy in that part of the world. As for those of us who have only recently discovered they exist, we're hoping the unique way in which they go about their business could be the key informing the development of new drug treatments.