A marine worm discovered by researchers at Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego has been given a tasty new name.
Named Xenoturbella churro, or X. churro, the marine worm looks similar to the fried pastry topped with cinnamon sugar -- at least what Scripps biologist Greg Rouse thought when he discovered the sea critter in the Gulf of California.
“I was trying to think of the name for it,” Rouse recalled.
When Jose Carvajal, one of his staff, saw a video of the worm, he remarked, “Wow, that looks like a churro!”
X. churro is 10 inches long and feeds off of mollusks, such as clams. The new species is orange-pink in color, but sometimes may appear to look more on the purple side, with four deep longitudinal furrows – just like a churro.
“We were like, 'Well, why not name it after the churro?'” Rouse said.
X. churro also made the cut for being in the Top 10 New Species for 2017 by the Environmental Science and Forestry College at State University of New York College (SUNY).
This is the second year in a row that a species discovered by Scripps researchers has made the Top 10.
Xenoturbella churro joins three other new Xenoturbella species also identified by Rouse and other scientists from the Western Australia Museum and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.