TEXAS CITY, Texas – Like a mix between a shark and an earthworm ripped from someone’s nightmares, the mystery sea creature that washed ashore in Texas during Hurricane Harvey appears to have been identified.
Preeti Desai, social media manager with the National Audubon Society, tweeted photos of the fanged, faceless body after finding it on a beach in Texas City, which lies along the Gulf Coast near Galveston.
Desai posted the photo with the challenge, “Okay, biology twitter, what the heck is this??” She also noted that there was a drinking straw in one of her photos, giving people an idea of the creature’s size.
— Preeti Desai🌿 (@preetalina) September 6, 2017
Answers on Twitter ranged from “the monsters in ‘Tremors'” to “mystery alien,” but there were also plenty of serious guesses.
“I follow a lot of scientists and researchers,” Desai told BBC News. “There’s such a great community of these folks that are very helpful, especially when it comes to answering questions about the world or identifying animals and plants.”
The answer finally came from Dr. Kenneth Tighe, a biologist with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, who believes it is a fangtooth snake-eel, also known as a “tusky” eel.
The lack of eyes in Desai’s photos gave the animal a faceless look, but, according to Earth Touch News, they had likely dried in the sun as one of the first stages of decomposition.
The fangtooth snake-eel usually lives in burrows roughly 100 to 300 feet below the surface.