Parchment worms are best pinched in the dark

Tube-dwellers make a mysterious glowing mucus

By Susan Milius, 10:54 AM July 24, 2014

Oh go ahead. Squeeze the soft tube of a parchment worm. But gently.

If it’s dark, “you will see puffs of blue mucus come out,” says Dimitri Deheyn. And the blue is glowing.

How the ocean-dwelling Chaetopterus parchment worms create the long-lasting glow — and the soft-but-tough tubes themselves — are still substantial mysteries, Deheyn says. 

Parchment worms spend their adult lives inside the U-shaped tubes they create, with just the rounded base buried. They live in sea bottoms around the world...

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