It was a believe it or not moment for Reuben Shipway, a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern University when he first found the translucent mollusca. These extraordinary species are inhabitants of Abatan River, Philippine Island of Bohol. Shipway was a part of Philippine Mollusk Symbiont Project when he first found the creature lurking on a sandstone rock. It was like the pale, blobby shipworms that typically eats wood, making them pests among the sailors, with only one difference. Unlike the species of Teredo navalis that eat wood, this fellow mollusk devoured rocks!
This new bizarre species of shipworm that eats rocks naturally excrete sand. It is now scientifically named as Lithoredo abatanica. However, local inhabitants have been aware of this variety of shipworm for quite some time now. They have come to call it antingaw. Shipworms are a known delicacy of Philippines. The locals are aware of the antibiotic property of the mollusk’s gills. This particular variety of rock-eating ship worms is fed to new mothers as they are known to improve lactation.
Shipway and his colleagues got as far as investigating the interiors of the antingaw. They found that unlike its brother wood-eating species, antingaw lacks the mechanism that helped digestion of wood. In its place, the mollusk has adapted to digest stone. How exactly the process takes place is still a mystery.
Although it is a sturdy rock eater, antingaw is still a friendly creature. A lot of other aquatic species including some crabs found new homes inside the tunnels gnawed by antingaw. After, bringing samples back to Northeastern University’s Marine Science Centre, the mollusk is going to be examined for its chances to provide medication against HIV and Cancer.