Although knocked out of the competition, the wrinkle ribbon worm of the Antarctic has made its presence felt.

The Japanese internet is currently abuzz over an unusual sea creature called a “wrinkle ribbon worm” (shiwa himo mushi). This member of a wildly diverse phylum of creatures measures about 70 centimeters (27 inches) long and bears an eerie resemblance to intestines.

For the most part it doesn’t really do anything. It hardly moves and occasionally slowly devours carcasses of other creatures such as fish, which is probably why a lot of humans suddenly find themselves relating to it.

▼ Here’s a video of a wrinkle ribbon worm eating a dead fish, sped up eight times

It’s certainly a heartwarming video, what with the acid reflux it must be triggering in all who watch it. It also captured the imagination of netizens in Japan.

“What the hell is that?”
“I thought it was a pig’s foot at first”
“That’s disgusting, but it’s nice to see that there are still mysterious creatures in the world.”
“That’s amazing and sick!”
“At first I thought the fish head was a part of the animal.”
“There’s something strangely erotic about it.”

Although surprisingly new to the public at large, four of these wrinkle ribbon worms have been in possession of the Nagoya Port Aquarium since 1991. Found in the oceans of the Antarctic they were entrusted to the aquarium but deemed not fit for display…because they were really gross.

So the aquarium cared for them in a backroom, away from the public. There these four creatures thrived for the next two decades, becoming the longest lived specimens there. Their actual age is impossible to determine, but aquarium staff estimate them to be possibly in their 40s.

It wasn’t until 2015, when Japan was gripped by a kimokawaii (gross-but-cute) fad – spearheaded by those huge deep-sea pill bugsthat the wrinkle ribbon worms were set up in a proper exhibit.

And this year, they were nominated as a candidate in the Grand King of Strange Creatures Title Match, held by Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo. Sadly, the wrinkle ribbon worms were narrowly defeated by the shoebill in the semi-final round.


The shoebill is currently trailing in the finals behind first-place pot-bellied sea horses, and also “humans” in second place. If you’d like to put your weight behind one of these remaining strange creatures, voting closes on 7 July on the website linked below.

The wrinkle ribbon worms needn’t worry, however, as they have already become stars online and don’t really have any concept of human validation to begin with… They’d probably kill and consume all of us given half the chance.

Source: Grand King of Strange Creatures Title Match, Asahi Shimbun, Niconico News, My Game News Flash
Top image: YouTube/Nagoya Port Aquarium Official Channel
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