Ponder Eunice aphroditois, the Bobbitt Worm. Sightless predatory aquatic worm notable for stealth, dizzying speed and impressive size. Growing up to ten feet long, stinging bristles cover a colourful exoskeleton. Their business end is ringed by five antennae, Bobbitt strikes by turning its throat inside out to expose sharp teeth packed with paralyzing toxin. They prefer warm ocean reefs, evidence suggests this invasive species has a far greater range than once thought.
Viscous a predator as Eunice aphroditois may be, surely “Bobbitt” wasn’t the best we could come up with? Bobbitt refers to Lorena Bobbitt. In 1993, domestic abuse, rape and sodomy culminated in Lorena cutting off her husband’s penis while he slept. John’s penis was reattached, Lorena acquitted and released after a 45 day psych evaluation, John ruled not guilty of rape by a jury. Close as I can tell, an online myth circulated inferring female Eunice aphroditois cut off male organs after mating, feeding it to their young. Since when do worms have penises? I digress.
A co-worker introduced Bobbitt Worms. He shared a link, expressed astonishment, I reciprocated. We spoke of evolution remarkable perfection of species, unfathomable diversity and realization we comprehend a fraction of the natural world. Good talk. Then he said, “anything named for Lorena Bobbitt must be nasty, a real badass”. Whoa, that’s not funny. “I’m serious” he replied with a chuckle. I wasn’t laughing.
What’s wrong with “sand striker” or “trap-jaw worm”? Both common names for Eunice aphroditois prior to Bobbitt malarkey. By what stretch of imagination (other than click bait ) does “Bobbitt” make a species more fascinating? “Have you heard of the giant predatory sea worm named for Lorena Bobbitt? So horrendous it attacks without mercy, slices unsuspecting prey in half without conscience. A horrible creature unashamed of paralyzing bristles, venomous bite.?” WTF people!
We live in a world of embellishment, sensationalism, misinformation, monetized content and parroted hearsay. What’s funny about likening a desperate act by an unhinged domestic abuse victim to behavior of a predatory sea worm? I digress, end of rant. Sigh.