Thursday, 22 August 2013

New Glue-Spitting Velvet Worm Found in Vietnam

Small bugs of the rain forest have many things to worry about, assuming they are capable of anxiety. But surely some of their more feared predators are velvet worms, a group of ancient animals that spit an immobilizing, gluelike material onto prey before injecting them with saliva and chomping down.

It turns out the velvet worm family is more diverse than thought: A new species has been found in the jungles of Vietnam. Unlike related velvet worms, this species has uniquely shaped hairs covering its body. It reaches a length of 2.5 inches (6 centimeters), said Ivo de Sena Oliveira, a researcher at the University of Leipzig, Germany, who along with colleagues describes the species in Zoologischer Anzeiger (A Journal of Comparative Zoology).

The paper and related work by Oliveira suggest thousands of unknown species of these creatures are waiting to be found throughout the world's tropical rain forests, he said. Research by Oliveira in the Amazon rain forest alone suggests there may be one new species of velvet worm about every 15 miles (25 kilometers), he told LiveScience. 

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