Many scientists were stumped by a series of photos of an unusual creature that washed ashore in Texas City, Texas after Hurricane Harvey flooded the gulf cities. But now, one person thinks they’ve identified the mysterious thing some were calling a “sea monster.”
According to Fox8, the creature looks like a combination of a shark and a giant earthworm.
The National Audubon Society’s social media manager tweeted photos of the lifeless body on the beach near Galveston. The creature was faceless except for strange fangs protruding.
“Okay, biology twitter, what the heck is this??” asked Preeti Desai. One photo even put a drinking straw in the photo to help viewers understand the scale.
— Preeti Desai🌿 (@preetalina) September 6, 2017
“I follow a lot of scientists and researchers,” Desai told BBC News. “There’s such a great community of these folks that are very helpful, especially when it comes to answering questions about the world or identifying animals and plants.”
Thanks to Dr. Kenneth Tighe, a biologist with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the weird critter is a fangtooth snake-eel, playfully known as a “tusky” eel.
While photos appear to show that the eel doesn’t have eyes, Earth Touch News thinks that the eyes likely dried up in the sun as part of decomposition.
Typically the “tusky” eel prefers to live in burrows 100 to 300 feet below the ocean surface.