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This creepy worm is trying to digest a person’s hand…

by Bec Crew

Introducing the ribbon worm, a member of the Nemertea phylum of primitive invertebrates that happens to include one of the longest-known animals on Earth. While the species Lineus longissimus usually only grows to a mere 5 to 10 millimetres, in 1864, a specimen washed up on a Scottish beach after a severe storm, and was promptly measured as being more than 55 metres (180 ft) long.

Like the demure little Nemertea in the video above, before it ended up dead and sized-up on a beach, this super-long worm would have had some powerful poisoning skills. All Nemertea worms are equipped with an elongated, tubular mouthpart called a proboscis, which curls up inside a specialised organ called the rhynchocoel just above its gut when the worm is at rest.

When the worm is hunting, however, that highly efficient, stretchy feeding tube will unfurl and emerge just above its mouth, to cover its prey in a thick, sticky, and slightly pungent mucus. All of which already sounds fairly unpleasant, but the worst part is that it contains a relatively strong neurotoxin that can paralyse small prey so they quit struggling. Which is exactly what the worm in the video above is trying to do to that man’s hand.

(via: Science Alert)