Researchers Just Discovered a New Species at the Bottom of the Ocean—and it Looks Like a Penis

“We have no idea how much wood is at the bottom of the ocean.”

A wood-boring clam inside of a piece of wood.Jenna Judge

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Of all the strange creatures that live on the ocean floor, one newly discovered aquatic animal might look surprisingly familiar. This wood-boring clam bears a striking resemblance to, well, wood.

Researchers have discovered three new groups and one new species of deep-sea wood-munching clams, according to a new paper in the Journal of Molluscan Studies. They burrow through waterlogged pieces of wood that have fallen to the bottom of the sea, then eat the sawdust they’ve scraped off. The clams work in massive numbers to eat away at wood washed out to sea from storms. “We have no idea how much wood is at the bottom of the ocean, but there’s probably a lot more than we think,” said Janet Voight, the lead author of the study and Associate Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Field Museum in Chicago.

The clams play an important role in deep-sea ecosystems. “These clams contribute to the cycling of carbon, they play an integral part in making the wood into something that the other animals at the bottom of the ocean can get energy from,” Voight said. “It could even affect sea level rise. It blows me away.”

Don’t get too excited about their phallic shape, though: they happen to be about the size of a pea.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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