May 6, 2015

Moment Spiderman-like bizarre marine worm shoots white 'webs' (VIDEO) - @NatGeo


A bloodthirsty worm that shoots white ‘webs’ like Spiderman to snare hapless prey, may sound like the stuff of nightmares.

But the disgusting spectacle has been caught on camera – while the undulating red worm was resting on someone’s hand.


It’s not clear exactly what the species of worm is, but it’s thought it is displaying its most deadly method of attack – by shooting out its proboscis – an elongated appendage like a nose that’s usually stowed inside its body.

However, some viewers of the video say it is probably the work of  clever CGI and MailOnline has contacted experts for more information.


So far, there are suggestions that the animal is a Kinabalu giant red leech or more likely, a type of Nemertea or ribbon worm.

In the video, its body looks swollen and lumpy and it seems to pause before suddenly ejecting what looks like thick white mucus. 

Strands branch out immediately, like Spiderman’s webs, and snake outwards across the person’s hand. 


Afterwards, the worm carries on wriggling in its intended direction, over the white ‘goo’.

There is much speculation about what the video really shows, but the person who posted it claims it’s a species of marine ribbon worn, which when threatened, explodes a proboscis from its mouth to attack prey.

This proboscis usually stays in a fluid-filled chamber above the gut.

Experts from North Carolina State University said that when the worm senses prey nearby, the circular muscle around its proboscis sheath contracts vigorously, forcing fluid from the sheath into the proboscis.

This action turns the proboscis inside out, blowing it out of the sheath and the animal's insides.

Within a second or so, the proboscis usually wraps itself around the prey, which is then drawn into the mouth and eaten.

American Naturalist JFG Wheeler described the actions of the Nemertean Gorgonorhynchus, writing: ‘It is as if a large number of lively, wriggling, minute worms had been shot out.’

While this rings true in the video, it appears that the proboscis is detached from the worm.

It's estimated there are between 900 and 1,400 species of ribbon worms, which have unsegmented bodies.

Some can reach a length of 98 ft (30 metres) although their bodies are only a few millimetres wide.

Ribbon worms have a complete digestive tract, with a mouth and anus, as well as their unique proboscis.



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