Monday, January 19, 2009

Terrestrial Planarians

You may have noticed, that I'm fond of slimy creatures. Here we have a group of oft overlooked slimy friends...the Terrestrial Flatworms or Land Planarians. They are in the Phylum Platyhelminthes, along with Aquatic Planaria, Tapeworms, and flukes. The Terricola live in moist and humid environs around the world, as they dry out rather easily.

They feed mostly on other small invertebrates, like Earthworms and snails. One of their more endearing qualities is the habit of exuding mucous to stay moist and on which they glide, as well as aiding in capture and digestion of prey. Some of the tropical species of Land Planarians can be fairly gaudy, as we'll see in the photos below. So, lets check out a collection of our slithery friends that lack an anus, a circulatory system, a respiratory system, a skeleton, and facial hair. Enjoy.

Geoplana burmeisteri

Geoplana ladislavi

Polycladus gayi

Bipalium sp., introduced into Europe and the U.S.
from China and SE Asia through potted plants

Bipalium kewense, introduced from China
now considered a pest as it preys on
native Earthworm species.

Bipalium sp. feeding on an Earthworm

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