Jul 7, 2010

Russian Mystery Animal ID Needed

We need a biologist, maybe even a bonafide cryptologist to weigh in on this one.

Olesja encountered this on a meadow path near a pond in Bashkiria, Russia. It was about 5 cm long, and had no discernible eyes, legs, or head. It moved in a jerky, almost caterpillar-like motion. She thought it might be a severed lizard tail, but it stopped moving when she touched it, and it resumed moving in the same direction about a minute later. The underside is smoother and darker than the topside.

Any clue as to what this might be? How afraid does Olesja need to be? How about the rest of us? Have we witnessed ground zero of an alien invasion? That tail, if larger, would make for good grappling, and all it would need then is a decent ovipositor, and viola, you've got human hosts.


Argent23 said...

Mongolian Death Worm?

Adam said...

Isn't that the thing that Khan put into Checkov's ear?

Anonymous said...

The safe bet is on leech, being near a pond and all.

But I don't think it's out of the question that it's some kind of chrysalis that's been dislodged from wherever it was hidden. I've definitely seen some that are very reactive.

Probably a leech though (not that I've ever seen one quite like it). I wish I could get a better look at either end of the thing. It seems like the blunter end terminates in what could be mouthparts and the more elongated end seems to have a hook, but I can only really see the shape in the shadow because of the depth of field on the picture.

Jaden Walker said...

Wow. Even I am stumped here.

Marciepooh said...

Some kind of isopod?

TercerAnon said...

It is difficult to tell, and I'm no expert on russian fauna, but it's some kind of beetle larva/neotenous adult.

It could be a firefly larva/neotenous adult http://www.google.com/images?q=firefly%20larva&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi

but I'm thinking it's some sort of net winged beetle larva/neotenous adult


I'd be surprised if anyone can narrow it down further, but I guess we'll see.

Olesja said...

Hey, I'm the person who took these pics. The friendly folk over at bugguide.net ID'd this little guy as a soldier fly larvae:

There's also another photo here:


Thanks so much for posting it!

Btw, I posted it on my facebook and got the Khan suggestion too, haha!

San Anon said...

oh, I neglected to read the "had no discernible ... legs" part.


Michael Lerner said...

From an entomologist friend of mine:

"It's a larva of a fly in the family Stratiomyidae. Typically live in nasty mucky areas and that tubular tail has the spiracle through which it breathes. They stick their head down in the scum and poke the tail up out of water.
Definitely won't hurt anyone"

wombat said...

Fascinating... but glad this is far away!

Katie Kleber said...

yikes...not sure i would have taken a picture and touched *that* i would most likely have run screaming in the opposite direction. creepy

Anonymous said...


Laurie Brown said...

Jebus, she *touched* that thing?!?!?!! She'll never get the ugly scrubbed off! And now she'll have alien babies come out of her hand.

I never trust anything that moves but doesn't have a face.

Anonymous said...

What Michael said makes sense. I remember reading about those things in a book - those are larvae of large flies, and apparently they feed on baby frogs. So no alien invasion here, sorry. Or thankfully.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link describing the animal in question:

It is Stratiomyidae Latreille, 1802 - Soldier Flies

Dr. Takeshi Yamada