PHOTO IN THE NEWS: Flesh-Eating Slug Found in Wales

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July 16, 2008—A previously unknown species of meat-eating slug that sucks up earthworms like spaghetti has been discovered in Wales, scientists announced.

The so-called ghost slug—pictured above—first appeared in South Wales gardens in 2006, possibly after arriving as a stowaway in imported potted plants, said biologist Ben Rowson of National Museum Cardiff.

The nocturnal predator is armed with blade-like teeth (see inset) for slicing through animal flesh and can measure up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) long when stalking its prey, Rowson said.

"They engulf the worms piece by piece," the biologist noted. "One end of the worm will still be alive while the other is being gradually ratcheted into the slug by the teeth."

Rowson was part of the team that recently named the white carnivore Selenochlamys ysbryda—"ysbryd" being Welsh for "ghost." Its pale color and lack of eyes suggests the animal evolved underground, Rowson said.

The slug's origins remain a mystery, but the study team speculates that it may be native to deep caves found in Georgia, Armenia, or Turkey.

No one knows whether the spooky creature presents a serious threat to Britain's earthworms or other native animals.

—James Owen

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