So many little legs
December 7, 2011 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Can you identify this marine worm?

This odd little thing was flailing around by itself in a very small rockpool on Drake's Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California. We weren't sure whether it belonged in the pool, as it didn't seem to have an effective way of swimming and kept spinning upside down, but when we tried to remove it to dry rock, it curled itself up into a ball and rolled itself back into the water. We tried moving it three times.

It was about 3" long and had a shiny black and red segmented exoskeleton, many bristly little striped legs, and was rounded at both ends, with tiny antennae on a little cartoon face.

We didn't find any of its friends nearby.
posted by superquail to Science & Nature (6 answers total)
He appears to be some sort of millipede.
posted by Logic Sheep at 2:01 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

That looks exactly like a millipede to me, and the bristly legs/cartoon face/curling up in a ball also fit. In the picture it looks like it has a water-repellent exoskeleton, which wouldn't make sense if it was a marine critter. My guess is that it was just very confused.
posted by fermion at 2:02 PM on December 7, 2011

Given the flailing, and less-than-aquadynamic limbs, I'd go with a giant millipede.
it curled itself up into a ball and rolled itself back into the water.
They are very ancient terrestrial creatures, so be patient with them.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 2:07 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's a millipede, and I don't think it liked being in the water. It's possible that rolling away was its only option for making a fast getaway, but a pool of water at the bottom of the hill wasn't in the plan. With repeated tries, it wasn't getting any smarter about the problem, because its brain is the size of a pinhead.
posted by polecat at 2:52 PM on December 7, 2011

Thanks mefites! Damn, I feel bad now for leaving it. Poor thing.
posted by superquail at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2011

Sounds like you found your answer, but I thought I'd chime in and mention how great a picture you took. Kudos.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:15 PM on December 7, 2011

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