Aug 16, 2008

Earthworm Hunter

Continuing with the worm theme, Joe sent me this lovely little creature. Say hello to the land planarian. Though I don't know the specific species of this colorful land planarian, it's guaranteed to dine on earthworms.

Photo source: The Peripatetic Pedaller


















Most creatures have the decency of hunting, then eating, then digesting. Not so with the land planarian. No, this creature hunts, then digests, then eats. As the Peripatetic Pedaller describes: "They digest their prey outside their bodies, by secreting enzymes that will melt an earthworm into a digestible slurry. Yum."




















To add insult to injury, the planarian's mouth is also its anus (I imagine they don't kiss very often). And, they travel on a slime trail like snails and slugs. But they can also use this slime to create a thread to dangle itself down to otherwise unreachable sections of the forest floor.

Who knew such a basic creature could provide us with so many I-just-threw-up-a-little-in-my-mouth moments?

Thanks, Joe.

11 comments:

Annica said...

That top photo is very beautiful!

The head makes it look a bit alien :)

Denita TwoDragons said...

I used to guard a downtown office building in Austin.

There aren't many critters that creep me out...and a few of these wouldn't be a problem...

...but patrolling past the glassed-in pavilion at four in the morning and watching as HUNDREDS of them slimed their way up the glass...? Definite eek moment.

--TwoDragons

Raging Wombat said...

Denita, you are a woman of many talents.

niner said...

Denita, that's a very eek! moment. =(

The first picture is ok, but worms creep me out. I'm sure they're all fascinating and stuff (who wouldn't want an earthworm slurry?!) but I would still run away in fear if I saw one. Or hundreds.

linty said...

I'm pretty sure slugs can do the dangle-trick too. I found a dangling slug just a week or two ago.

ChicChickory said...

This little Planarian takes the phrase "talking out of your ass" to a whole new level. Since that seems to be a prominent quality amongst politicians, maybe the Planarian should run for office.

Denita TwoDragons said...

Wombat, I can't tell if you're complimenting or insulting me...or both... ;-)

Yeah, let's just say I'm really happy to be living in a much drier, more gravelly part of the Lone Star State now. Yeesh.

--TwoDragons

Raging Wombat said...

Compliments only, Denita.

Anonymous said...

Have these made it to Hawaii? My wife found something like that a few weeks ago on the Big Island. What else do they eat, or have earthworms made it there too?

ZantiMissKnit said...

We found a less colorful version in Croatan National Park, New Bern, NC, a few weeks ago. Before we know what they were, we called the "nightmare slugs", because we were certain we'd have nightmares that night!

Anonymous said...

I remember finding lots of these (maybe not this particular species, but definitely land planarians) around my house in Fort Worth, Texas several years ago.