F Rosa Rubicondior: Unintelligent Design - New Species Of Deep-Ocean Worm - But What Is It For, Exactly?

Friday 8 March 2024

Unintelligent Design - New Species Of Deep-Ocean Worm - But What Is It For, Exactly?

New Deep-Sea Worm Discovered at Methane Seep off Costa Rica | Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Fig 1. Pectinereis strickrotti gen. nov., sp. nov. in life.

A, B, D. Several epitokous males swimming near methane seeps of Mound 12 (~1,000 m depth) of the Costa Rica margin and videoed via the submersible DSV Alvin. A. A frame grab from a video taken on Alvin dive 4503 on Feb. 4, 2009. B and D. Frame grabs from video taken on Alvin dive 4987 on Nov. 2, 2018. C. A fragment of an atokous infaunal female was collected at the same depth and locality via sediment pushcore on Alvin dive 4984 on Oct. 30, 2018. A white egg ~350 μm in diameter is visible on the exterior. Scalebar 1 mm. E. An epitokous male swimming near methane seeps of Parrita Scar (~1,000 m depth) of the Costa Rica margin. The specimen was initially caught via slurp with the ROV SuBastian (dive S0218, Jan. 11, 2019) but escaped.

Images A, B, D, courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. E, courtesy of Schmidt Ocean Institute.
One of the hallmarks of good intelligent design is that the designed object must be designed for a purpose. No intelligent designer is going to waste time making something that doesn't have any use. Even a decorative use is a function. As the designer William Morris said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.", but creationism's designer seems to just design things for the sake of it - half a million different beetles, for example. And now we have the example of a deep-ocean worm that appears to have no other purpose than to make more deep-ocean worms.

It's almost exactly like these different organisms are being designed by a mindless, natural process without a plan and no sense of purpose!

According to creationist superstitions in Genesis, every living thing on Earth was created for the benefit of mankind, and, incidentally, named by Adam (as though Adam would have had enough time to name every living species!). So, a challenge to creationists is to tell us what these deep-ocean worms are for in terms of their utility value for humans, and how did Adam dive that deep to name them?

Its discovery if the subject of an open access paper in PLOS ONE and is described in a Scripps Institute for Oceanography news release:
Greg Rouse, a marine biologist at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and other researchers have discovered a new species of deep-sea worm living near a methane seep some 50 kilometers (30 miles) off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Rouse, curator of the Scripps Benthic Invertebrate Collection, co-authored a study describing the new species in the journal PLOS ONE that was published on March 6.

The worm, named Pectinereis strickrotti, has an elongated body that is flanked by a row of feathery, gill-tipped appendages called parapodia on either side, and Rouse said its sinuous swimming reminded him of a snake. The species was named after Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Bruce Strickrott, lead pilot for the famed deep-sea submersible Alvin, who Rouse said was instrumental in the effort to locate and collect the creature. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Rouse and his colleagues have encountered roughly 450 species at the Costa Rican methane seeps since 2009, with this latest discovery bringing the number of those species that were new to science to 48. These impressive stats underscore how much more there is left to learn about these ecosystems as well as their biological importance, said Rouse.

Methane seeps are parts of the seafloor where the powerful greenhouse gas methane escapes from rocks or sediment on the seafloor in the form of bubbles. Unlike deep-sea hydrothermal vents, methane seeps are typically not hotter than the surrounding water. But like hydrothermal vents, methane seep ecosystems are fueled by chemical energy rather than sunlight. This is because some microbes have evolved the ability to consume methane. The microbes that can make methane into food create the base of a food web that at the Costa Rican seeps is dominated by mussels, crabs, and soft-bodied polychaete worms like this new species, said Rouse.

Strickrott and Rouse first encountered the new species in 2009 at a depth of around 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) during a dive in the Alvin human-occupied submersible, which is operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and owned by the U.S. Navy.

“We saw two worms near each other about a sub’s length away swimming just off the bottom,” said Strickrott. “We couldn’t see them well and tried to creep in for a closer look, but it’s hard to creep in a submarine and we spooked them.”

Finally, in 2018 the team was able to return to Costa Rica’s methane seeps with Alvin. On a dive to the same spot the worm was first sighted, known as Mound 12, Strickrott was astounded to encounter six or more individuals of the unidentified species they first saw there nearly a decade earlier. For some reason, the worms were much less skittish than they were in 2009 and, using a five-chambered vacuum canister device on Alvin that Strickrott calls the “slurp gun,” they carefully collected several specimens as well as images and video – enough to formally describe what proved to be a new species.

“The way this thing moved was so graceful, I thought it looked like a living magic carpet,” said Strickrott. “I’m honored that Greg [Rouse] saw fit to name this species after me, it means a lot.”

Pectinereis strickrotti is a 10-centimeter-long (4-inch) member of the ragworm family (Nereididae). Ragworms are a group of around 500 species of segmented, mostly-marine worms that look a bit like a cross between a centipede and an earthworm. They have elongated bodies with rows of bristled parapodia on their sides and a hidden set of pincer-shaped jaws that can be extruded for feeding. Many species of ragworm also have two distinct life stages: atoke and epitoke. In these species, the worm spends most of its life on the seafloor, often in a burrow, as a sexually immature atoke, but in their life’s final act they transform into sexually mature epitokes that swim up off the bottom into the water column to find mates and spawn.
Males of the new species of deep-sea worm swimming near the seafloor off the coast of Costa Rica on Nov. 2, 2018.
Credit: Courtesy of Erik Cordes, Temple U./NSF/HOV Alvin/2018 ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The team was able to collect three male Pectinereis strickrotti epitokes and part of one female. Following their successful collection, the team used the specimens to conduct anatomical analysis and to study the worm’s DNA to establish its evolutionary relationships within the ragworm family. The specimens now reside in Scripps’ Benthic Invertebrate Collection and the Museo de Zoología at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

Compared to most ragworms, Pectinereis strickrotti is unusual in several ways. First, it lives in the deep sea, while the majority of its evolutionary kin inhabit shallower waters. Second, its parapodia are covered in gills, while most ragworms absorb oxygen through their parapodia without the aid of true gills. The males had large spines at the end of their tails, which Rouse said might have something to do with reproduction but would require further study. Finally, owing to the total darkness at 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) under the sea, the new species is blind. Rouse said the worms probably have keen senses of smell and touch to help them navigate their inky world.

Pectinereis strickrotti has robust, even fearsome-looking jaws, but Rouse said their diet is still unknown and that the species could just as easily be feeding on bacteria as larger fare like other worms. Though its coloration would be a moot point in life, given its pitch black habitat, Rouse said the worm appeared rosy under Alvin’s lights, and that this was probably due to the color of its blood.

“We’ve spent years trying to name and describe the biodiversity of the deep sea,” said Rouse. “At this point we have found more new species than we have time to name and describe. It just shows how much undiscovered biodiversity is out there. We need to keep exploring the deep sea and to protect it.”

Rouse and other Scripps researchers will be heading back out to sea later this year in hopes of making even more deep-sea discoveries at methane seeps off the coasts of Alaska and Chile.

In addition to Rouse, Sonja Huč, Avery Hiley, and Ekin Tilic of Scripps contributed to the study. Tulio Villalobos-Guerrero of the Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada is the study’s first author and conducted the primary anatomical analysis.

The Scripps Oceanographic Collections are comprised of millions of biological and geological marine specimens, providing a record of the state of the ocean environment over the past century that serves as a resource to researchers and students all over the world. To support the collections, members of the public can join the membership group Friends of the Collections or consider naming a new species to support the research and preservation required to establish the species in the scientific record permanently.

Nereidid polychaetes are well known from shallow marine habitats, but their diversity in the deep sea is poorly known. Here we describe an unusual new nereidid species found at methane seeps off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Specimens of Pectinereis strickrotti gen. nov., sp. nov. had been observed dating back to 2009 swimming just above the seafloor at ~1,000 m depth but were not successfully captured until 2018. Male epitokes were collected as well as a fragment of an infaunal female found in a pushcore sample. The specimens were all confirmed as the same species based on mitochondrial COI. Phylogenetic analyses, including one based on available whole mitochondrial genomes for nereidids, revealed no close relative, allowing for the placement of the new species in its own genus within the subfamily Nereidinae. This was supported by the unusual non-reproductive and epitokous morphology, including parapodial cirrostyles as pectinate gills, hooked aciculae, elfin-shoe-shaped ventral cirrophores, and elongate, fusiform dorsal ligules emerging sub-medially to enlarged cirrophores. Additionally, the gill-bearing subfamily Dendronereidinae, generally regarded as a junior synonym of Gymnonereidinae, is reviewed and it is here reinstated and as a monogeneric taxon.


The diversity of Nereididae de Blainville, 1818 compared to other polychaete clades of family rank is well documented, with over 700 accepted species [14]. Nereidids are generally known from coastal regions, commonly confined to shallow marine habitats, although they also occur in brackish, freshwater, and even moist terrestrial environments [1, 58]. However, ~10% of the total diversity is known from deep-sea habitats. Currently, 69 nereidid species found in 13 genera are known from below 500 m depth [9] from various habitats, including hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, polymetallic nodules, foraminifera ooze, whale carcasses, and sunken wood [1015]. The best-represented genera are the polyphyletic Neanthes Kinberg, 1865 (16 species) and Nereis Linnaeus, 1758 (19 species), which includes the deepest known nereidid recorded, Nereis profundi Kirkegaard, 1956 from 7,290 m depth. One genus, the monotypic Typhlonereis Hansen, 1879 is exclusive to deep environments.

The deep sea encompasses a diverse, vast mosaic of understudied and poorly sampled habitats [16]. Several surveys that have sampled deep waters from distinct regions suggest polychaete biodiversity is severely underestimated [1719], rendering our knowledge of it limited [2022]. We can assume, therefore, that oceanic depths still host a vast number of yet undescribed nereidid species, although it is noteworthy that there has been a relatively continual discovery of new deep-sea nereidids since about the 1960s (e.g., [6, 1012, 14, 15, 2336].

While deep-water nereidids continue to be discovered, information about their behavior and inference about morphological adaptations has been scarce. According to Fauchald [11, 12], deep-sea nereidids share a few unusual prostomial and parapodial features when compared to shallow-living relatives, such as the absence of eyes, prolonged appendages and chaetae, and posterior chaetigers with extended notopodia and elongated neuropodia. Notably, the reduction of eyes and the elongation of parapodial appendages and chaetae fall under the general specialization to aphotic environments of some subterranean and cave (troglobiotic) nereidids placed in Namanereidinae Hartman, 1959 [3739]. These morphological adaptations, inherent to the ‘darkness syndrome’ [40], have been shown for a few other polychaete clades containing cave and deep-sea members (e.g., Scalibregmatidae Malmgren, 1867 [41] and Aphroditiformia Levinsen, 1883 [4245]), suggesting that these are also convergent evolutionary traits for nereidids living at aphotic depths.

Genetic tools have been instrumental in developing a better understanding of the diversity among nereidids. Several new species or previously synonymized ones have been described, reinstated, or delimited through the integration of morphological data and molecular markers of apparently cryptic species (e.g., [4657]). Molecular data has also been utilized to investigate phylogenetic relationships at a broader scale among nereidid taxa [15, 57, 58]. Recently mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes) have been sequenced for a variety of nereidid species (e.g., [5966], providing a rich dataset to assess phylogenetic relationships with more confidence. Alves et al. [67] assessed the monophyly and phylogenetic relationships of the presently accepted subfamilies and provided an ancestral state reconstruction of pharyngeal structures using mitogenomic data. They rejected the monophyly of the subfamilies Nereidinae de Blainville, 1818 and Gymnonereidinae Banse, 1977 as currently recognized and revealed that the occurrence of papillae and paragnaths may not be reliable features to diagnose major groups. We revisit the nereidid subfamily issue here with regards to Dendronereidinae Pillai, 1961.

This study describes a new, morphologically unusual, nereidid species belonging to a new genus using specimens found near methane seeps at ~1,000 m depth off Costa Rica in the eastern Pacific. This new species is remarkable for its dorsal and ventral anterior parapodial cirri, modified as gills, and hooked-shaped posterior aciculae, both unique features among Nereididae. Its mitochondrial genome was sequenced as well as those of two shallow-water nereidid species. This allowed for a new mitogenomic analysis to evaluate the position and relationships of the new genus within Nereididae.
Fig 2. Haplotype analysis and mitogenome phylogeny.

A. Haplotype network of COI data acquired for the three male and one female specimen of Pectinereis strickrotti gen. nov., sp. nov. The holotype sequence (male epitoke) is marked with * and has five base pairs different from the female (infaunal fragment). B. Maximum likelihood (ML) tree derived from analysis of the concatenated 15-gene mitochondrial genome dataset, with the 13 PCGs translated to amino acids. Support values at nodes are bootstrap support percentages after 1,000 pseudoreplicates.
Fig 4. Pectinereis strickrotti gen. nov., sp. nov. male anatomy.

A, B, D-F. Paratype (SIO-BIC A9889), epitokous male: A, whole body of living specimen in dorsal view; B, anterior region of living specimen in dorsal view; D, prostomium of preserved specimen in frontal view; E, posterior end of preserved specimen in dorsal view; F, post-natatory chaetigers and pygidium of preserved specimen in dorsolateral view. C. Holotype (SIO-BIC A9836), epitokous male: anterior region of preserved specimen in dorsal view. Scale bars: A, ~20 mm; B, ~5 mm; C, 5 mm; D, 1 mm; E, 3 mm; F, 0.5 mm.

Credits: A, B, Ekin Tilic; C, Tulio Villalobos; D-F, Greg Rouse.
Fig 5. Pectinereis strickrotti gen. nov., sp. Nov. male anatomy details.

A, B, D, E. Holotype (SIO-BIC A9836), epitokous male: A, prostomium and everted proboscis in dorsal view (arrow pointing additional abnormal antennae); B, everted proboscis in ventral view; C, everted proboscis in lateral view; E, branchiferous chaetigers in ventrolateral view (numbers referring to chaetiger). D. Paratype (SIO-BIC A9889), epitokous male: dissected anterior end in ventral view. Abbreviations: brd, dorsal gills; brv, ventral gills; pb, pharyngeal bulb; oe, esophagus. Scale bars: A–C, 2 mm; D, 3 mm; E, 1 mm.

Credits: A-C, E: Tulio Villalobos; D, Greg Rouse.
Fig 6. Pectinereis strickrotti gen. nov., sp. nov. male parapodia.

A-H. Holotype (SIO-BIC A9836), epitokous male: A, parapodium of chaetiger 2; B, parapodium of chaetiger 10; C, parapodial dorsal cirrus of chaetiger 5; D, parapodial ventral cirrus of chaetiger 5; E, parapodium of chaetiger 22; F, parapodium of chaetiger 33; G, parapodium of chaetiger 55; H, parapodium of chaetiger 146. I. Paratype (SIO-BIC A9889), epitokous male: parapodium of pre-pygidial (PM) chaetigers. White arrows indicate branchial filament. Abbreviations: dl, dorsal ligule; dp, dorsal cirrophore; ds, dorsal cirrostyle; in, inferior lobe; ml, median ligule; po, neuropodial postchaetal lobe; pr, notopodial prechaetal lobe; vl, ventral ligule; vp, ventral cirrophore; vs, ventral cirrostyle. Scale bars: A, B, E-H, 0.5 mm; C, D, I, 0.2 mm.

Credits: A-H, Tulio F. Villalobos; I, Greg Rouse.

Villalobos-Guerrero TF, Huč S, Tilic E, Hiley AS, Rouse GW (2024)
A remarkable new deep-sea nereidid (Annelida: Nereididae) with gills.
PLoS ONE 19(3): e0297961. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0297961

Copyright: © 2024 The authors.
Published by PLoS. Open access.
Reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0)

As an example of the mindless process of evolution, this marine worm is a wonder; as an example of something intelligently designed for the benefit of humans, like creationists insist everything was, it makes no sense whatsoever. Why design a worm that lives so deep in the ocean that humans need special equipment even to be aware of it? And even if, unlike most creatinists you have the humility to take humans out of the equation, a worm that lives in a highly specialised environment and lives only to make more copies of itself, make no sense as the result of an intelligent design process because design without ultimate purpose is simply not intelligent design.

The Unintelligent Designer: Refuting The Intelligent Design Hoax

ID is not a problem for science; rather science is a problem for ID. This book shows why. It exposes the fallacy of Intelligent Design by showing that, when examined in detail, biological systems are anything but intelligently designed. They show no signs of a plan and are quite ludicrously complex for whatever can be described as a purpose. The Intelligent Design movement relies on almost total ignorance of biological science and seemingly limitless credulity in its target marks. Its only real appeal appears to be to those who find science too difficult or too much trouble to learn yet want their opinions to be regarded as at least as important as those of scientists and experts in their fields.

Available in Hardcover, Paperback or ebook for Kindle

The Malevolent Designer: Why Nature's God is Not Good

This book presents the reader with multiple examples of why, even if we accept Creationism's putative intelligent designer, any such entity can only be regarded as malevolent, designing ever-more ingenious ways to make life difficult for living things, including humans, for no other reason than the sheer pleasure of doing so. This putative creator has also given other creatures much better things like immune systems, eyesight and ability to regenerate limbs that it could have given to all its creation, including humans, but chose not to. This book will leave creationists with the dilemma of explaining why evolution by natural selection is the only plausible explanation for so many nasty little parasites that doesn't leave their creator looking like an ingenious, sadistic, misanthropic, malevolence finding ever more ways to increase pain and suffering in the world, and not the omnibenevolent, maximally good god that Creationists of all Abrahamic religions believe created everything. As with a previous book by this author, "The Unintelligent Designer: Refuting the Intelligent Design Hoax", this book comprehensively refutes any notion of intelligent design by anything resembling a loving, intelligent and maximally good god. Such evil could not exist in a universe created by such a god. Evil exists, therefore a maximally good, all-knowing, all-loving god does not.

Illustrated by Catherine Webber-Hounslow.

Available in Hardcover, Paperback or ebook for Kindle


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1 comment :

  1. This is another example out of countless examples of the creator making repulsive organisms with no use and no benefit for humans who He supposedly loves so much. What does creating a deep sea worm do for me? How does this benefit me? The creator likes to make gross repulsive things, likes dangerous things, and likes useless things. The creator is amoral and demented.
    Aren't there enough worm species in the world? Do we really need more of them? Come on creator, you need to do better than create deep sea worms if you want to be loved and worshipped. The creator needs to start healing this broken creation if He expects us to love Him and worship Him. Much of the creation needs a do over, a makeover, and a reset. All the wrong and all the horrible things need to be done away with. The world needs healing and I dont see this happening.


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