New worm-snail is a super slimer | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


New worm-snail is a super slimer

Invasive species in Florida Keys shoots ‘copious amounts of mucus’ to catch prey

10:30am, April 13, 2017

DOWN THE HATCH  Thylacodes vandyensis, a new species of worm-snail named after the ship it was found on, oozes out a mucus web to trap prey. It then reels the web back in, eating both prey and the web itself.

A new species of worm-snail is rather snotty. Thylacodes vandyensis shoots out strands of mucus that tangle together, building a spiderweb-like trap for plankton and other floating snacks, researchers report April 5 in PeerJ.

Other worm-snails use this hunting technique, but T. vandyensis stands out because of the “copious amounts of mucus” it ejects, says coauthor Rüdiger Bieler. This goo net, which can stretch up to 5 centimeters across, exits the animal’s tentacles at, of course, “a snail’s pace,” jokes Bieler, a curator at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Like other worm-snails, T. vandyensis permanently glue themselves to spots. Bieler found T. vandyensis, which typically grow half as tall as a pinkie finger, on the hull of a sunken ship in the Florida Keys. But they don’t belong there: DNA analysis shows that this

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content