Although experts have recognised that shipworms do exist, no live one has ever been captured up until this point.
The slippery black creature, which can grow up to five feet long (1.55 metres) spends its life residing in a shell burrowed into the ground, feeding on marine sediment.
Despite its name, the shipworm is not actually a worm, but a bivalve, which is part of the same family of the likes of mussels and clams.
As its hardened shell is made out of calcium, the shipworm, the real name of which is Kuphus polythamia, needs to break the top of its shell to grow.
Shipworms have been discovered in the Philipines
As these are the first shipworms to have ever been found alive, scientists are still not fully sure of the complete details of its habitat, life history and anatomy.
The team of scientists from the US, the Philippines and France found five of the “rare and enigmatic” creatures in Mindanao, Philippines.
A video of the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), shows scientists removing one of the shipworms from its shell, before eventually dissecting one of the species.
Little is known about the elusive creatures
The study states that shipworms “are found near geochemical (e.g., hydrothermal vents) or biological (e.g., decaying wood or large animal carcasses) sources” on the ocean floor.
It adds: “This rare and enigmatic species, which achieves the greatest length of any extant bivalve, is the only described member of the wood-boring bivalve family Teredinidae (shipworms) that burrows in marine sediments rather than wood.”
Strange hybrid animals
Tue, May 31, 2016
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This list of REAL hybrid animals will surprise and amaze you. What does the future hold, with advances in genetic engineering and cloning? Only time will tell! Keep reading to find out more about these strange creatures.
1 of 17
Meet Jaglion, the offspring between a male jaguar and a female lion
Shipworms can grow up to five feet in length
Daniel Distel, from the Ocean Genome Legacy Center at Northeastern University in Boston, told New Scientist: "It’s hard not to be amazed when seeing one in the flesh, even if you know nothing about them.
"There is no other animal like them."