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29 May 2009
A flesh-eating slug discovered by University scientists has been named as one of the top ten strangest species to be discovered in recent years by New Scientist magazine.
Dr Bill Symondson, School of Biosciences and Ben Rowson, a PhD student at the School and a biologist at National Museum Wales, first encountered the slug in 2007 after a member of the public found it in their garden and brought it to the University.
The slug, which is completely white and blind, lives underground and is capable of extending its flexible body down worm holes to catch its earthworm prey. One of its most distinguishing features is its blade-like teeth which it uses to drag its victims into its mouth.
Dr Symondson said: "It’s excellent that this strange beast has attracted such wide interest and highlights the fact that extroardinary wildlife is not only found in remote tropical jungles but can even be discovered in people’s back gardens. Our recent survey work shows that it can now be found in a wide area of South Wales, from Swansea in the west to the Severn Bridge, and as far north as Brecon. If you see one, please let us know!."
To help monitor the spread of the creature officially known as Selenochlamys ysbryda, or ghost slug, an identification guide has been produced by the Museum. Sightings of the slug can be reported using the guide.
Other species named by the New Scientist include a lungless frog, the world's smallest snake and a ‘Dracula fish’. The ghost slug has also made it into a list of the top-ten newly-discovered species in a report published by the International Institute for Species Exploration. The report highlights thousands of new plants, animals and other specimens officially designated as new species in 2008.
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