Not a spider

I get complaints all the time about my spider photos. No matter how gorgeous they are, there are always a bunch of people who dislike seeing them. They’re not cats, you know? Everyone wants cats. Nothing but cats. Adorable little kittens frolicking about.

Well, PZ don’t do that. I’m willing to compromise, though, so here…a non-spider. It’s kind of the antithesis of a spider, which makes it more like a kitty cat. Enjoy your penis worms.

Here’s a big bucket full of penis worms.

And a beach covered with penis worms.

You like that, huh? You want more? ARE YOU HAPPY NOW??!? Are you going to continue criticizing my spiders?


  1. blf says

    Everyone wants cats. Nothing but cats.

    Birds would disagree. Albeit the mildly deranged penguin does rather like using cats as trebuchet ammo.

  2. nomdeplume says

    @3 I am guessing the geoduck is a cross between a rock and a duck?

    But on a different note these creatures may look odd, but isn’t the death of thousands of them of concern?

  3. eamick says

    @7 It’s a large species of clam with a massive, positively phallic siphon. For some reason, it’s pronounced “gooey duck”.

  4. gedjcj says

    “Gooey duck” sounds at least vaguely like the indigineous name. For some reason it’s spelled “geoduck”.

  5. nomdeplume says

    @12 Thanks eamick, I was making a poor joke about creationists based on “crocoduck” and their nonsense about humans evolving from rocks…

  6. monad says

    Why do all these news stories keep calling them “penis fish”? It’s not a term I’ve ever heard before – even wikipedia only calls them penis worms – and suddenly it’s all over the place. They plainly have nothing to do with fish, so what’s the deal? Where did it come from?

  7. blf says

    monad@15, My speculation is some confusion between the two species Urechis unicinctus (“Chinese penis fish” or “fat innkeeper worm”, which is not the critters in the recent California incident) , and U. caupo (“innkeeper worm”, which is the species involved). All(?) the articles I’ve seen have either not identified the species, or have correctly identified it as U. caupo, but seem to use common names for U. unicinctus. Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge has now added “penis fish” as a common name for U. caupo based on (reporting of) the recent California incident.

    nomdeplume@7, My understanding is they are actually very common — just rarely seen — living buried in the sand / beaches. In the recent incident, the covering sand was washed away, exposing the inhabitants. This has apparently happened before elsewhere (apologies for the lack of references). I speculate they are so common one beach / island doesn’t matter, albeit I have no idea how, or how quickly, they can recolonise the area.

  8. says

    blf@18 Actually, from what I can gather, the distinction between “penis worms” and “penis fish” is a distinction between phyla, not species. The penis worms compose their own phylum, Priapulida, whereas the penis fish, or (fat) innkeeper worms, are annelids. (And so of course they’re not fish, but then neither are starfish or jellyfish.) So the stories calling them “penis fish” are indeed correct (even if they arguably should have chosen the less confusing common name “innkeeper worm”), while it seems PZ, with all due respect, is in error here calling them “penis worms”, which name properly refers to an altogether different animal.

  9. monad says

    @21 JSNuttall, it was the right thing to do today. I thought for sure this was a corruption of the name for priapulids, and even after blf helped clarify where it came from, still didn’t notice Urechis was something on the other side of the protostome world. Thanks to you both.

  10. wzrd1 says

    @9, the last time I looked, they initially were using the Marianas trench, now, using a deeper location in Antarctica.

    As for the worm, regardless of what it looks like, I’ll happily prepare it and try it.
    Any nutritional information on it? I do have to keep my iodine levels either extremely low, or when out of my medication, extremely high to shut down my thyroid gland’s excess.
    Still, given geoduck preparation, skin, slice thin and fast cook, lest they turn into a rubber. ;)

  11. says

    It was the octopus and squid pictures that bothered me, not the spiders.

    But please warn me if you plan to post any matriphagy photos. Seeing baby spiders eat their lunch will make me lose mine.