Wiener resemblance was not included in the peer-reviewed report.

Nature truly is a wonder, and despite all the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the years, there’s still believed to be upwards of five million species of animals we aren’t even aware of. Some of the ones we’ve found so far have been cool, some tragic, and some even look like little hot dogs.

▼ News report from the “little hot dog” front, with a side-by-side comparison at the 35-second mark

The little octopus-like creatures seen above are believed to be a new species called yamataro yadoritsutsunomushi in Japanese where “yadoritsutsunomushi” refers to the English genus name temnocephalidae. Although yadoritsutsunomushi are actually flatworms and not octopuses, they do have five stubby tentacles with suckers so they can cling to the shells of crustaceans, in the case of yamataro yadoritsutsunomushi, they exclusively enjoy riding on the yamataro crab or Japanese mitten crab.

Why they do this isn’t entirely clear, but they don’t appear to be harming their host animal, so the yadoritsutsunomushi are considered a symbiont rather than a parasite. Species of this genus are often found in the waters around Southeast Asia and Australia, but they were also discovered in the freshwater areas of Kagoshima Prefecture about 22 years ago. Now, a research team at Kagoshima University found that the reproductive organs of yamataro yadoritsunomushi are different from others in the genus, making them a unique species all their own. 

This is great news for a better understanding of ecology, but media reports focused on how much these little worms resemble octopus wieners. These are a staple of children’s bento in which a cocktail wiener is cut on one end to make some tentacles.

▼ We found that izakayas serve them a little differently

Comments were mixed on the resemblance, but mostly agreed they were kind of cute.

“It’s not even an octopus?”
“They’re surprisingly cute.”
“Octopus wiener larvae.”
“I couldn’t tell what it was by looking at it, but it’s a kind of worm.”
“I’m surprised such an animal exists.”
“They’re a little more like a squid wiener though.”
“They should call it a yamataro yadoritsunomushi wiener then.”
“They don’t look that much like wieners, but there is a similarity.”

Many comments suggested they actually look more like Ottotto, a brand of puffed potato cracker in the shapes of various sea creatures. It’s possibly the squid one that yamataro yadoritsunomushi resembles and the animal’s white and yellow colors are indeed a closer match to the yellowish hue of the cracker.

Regardless of what food these animals look most like, they are an exciting discovery. Research team leader, Associate Prof. Daisuke Ueno said that they are only found in clean water, suggesting that their presence could be an easy way to detect water quality. Let’s see a wiener or cracker do that.

Source: Kagoshima University, NHK, Hachima Kiko
Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!