Ragworms mate when the Moon is just right
Moonlight is an important influence on the reproductive activity of marine creatures. Ragworms time their mating with the darkness of the new Moon – the entire population becomes ready to multiply at the same time. Males wriggle to female burrows and deposit their genetic material ready to fertilise eggs hidden beneath the sand. The darkness helps cloak the worms from nearby carnivores and gives the young the greatest chance of making it to adulthood.
Many fish species spawn in huge numbers above coral reefs under the full Moon, releasing millions of eggs that float away in ocean currents to develop into living larvae. While researchers are certain that sea life can track the lunar cycle, we are still in the dark as to how the animals gather and process this information.
A ragworm’s tough teeth are formed by a protein rich in the amino acid histidine, the study of which could lead to new developments in thefield of engineering