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Legendary giant shipworm found in Philippines [Infographic]

A live specimen of the rare giant shipworm has been found for the first time in the Philippines.

Its existence has been known for centuries but no living specimen has been studied until now.

It spends its life encased in a hard shell, submerged head-down in mud and despite the name it is actually a bivalve - the same group as clams and mussels.

"The shells are fairly common, but we have never had access to the animal living inside," lead investigator and director of the Ocean Genome Legacy Center at Northeastern University, Daniel Distel said.

"Being present for the first encounter of an animal like this is the closest I will ever get to being a 19th-century naturalist," said Margo Haygood, study author and research professor in medicinal chemistry at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy.

The scientists said the creature is "radically different" from other wood-eating shipworms.

The scientists are keeping the exact location of the find secret.

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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