One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A marine bristle worm which swarms in response to changes in light intensity, particularly that of the moon. The worm's posterior segments detach themselves and swim to the surface where the reproductive cells are released into the sea.
- ‘The palolo worm makes its home, according to Anja Schulze of the Smithsonian Marine Station, in the shallow reef, where it uses its sizeable jaws to dig itself a burrow in the limestone substrate.’
- ‘All around them palolo worms are thrashing in vast numbers.’
- ‘Palolo worms from the South Pacific are relatively well studied.’
Late 19th century: palolo from Samoan or Tongan.
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