Creatures from the Sewer

The latest viral video is from the sewer under Cameron Village in Raleigh, NC.  The mysterious creatures found are nothing short of disgusting and spectacular.  This video has made its way to Video Sift and various cryptozoology sites.  Speculations on the nature of this creature run from bryozoans, cnidarians, slime molds, and some mysterious alien creature here to suck out our brains. Well let me say first that it is none of the above. I can think of no freshwater Cnidarian that looks anything like this.  It lacks the characteristic delineations that would indicate individual zooids in the colony and frankly the retracting of finger-like tentacles doesn’t seem like a bryozan characteristic (see the pictures at this site). In fact, I have poked a lot of invertebrates as lab instructor for invertebrate zoology and as a graduate student just for shits and giggles and none of the mentioned candidates would respond like this. So back to square one…

You shouldn’t trust me however…you should trust an expert in one of the aforementioned groups.  Enter stage right Dr. Timothy S. Wood who is an expert on freshwater bryozoa and an officer with the International Bryozoology Association.  I sent along the video and this was his reponse…

Thanks for the video – I had not see it before. No, these are not bryozoans!  They are clumps of annelid worms, almost certainly tubificids (Naididae, probably genus Tubifex). Normally these occur in soil and sediment, especially at the bottom and edges of polluted streams. In the photo they have apparently entered a pipeline somehow, and in the absence of soil they are coiling around each other. The contractions you see are the result of a single worm contracting and then stimulating all the others to do the same almost simultaneously, so it looks like a single big muscle contracting. Interesting video.

More video of Tubifex

Dr. M (1730 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

156 comments on “Creatures from the Sewer
  1. This is not a fake. I have a sample right now. I have been dealing with these things all day today. Who do I need to send a sample too? Any Ideas other than the local college?

  2. Pingback: Disgusting Creature Found in Sewer | Extraordinary Intelligence

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