A video of a bizarre green creature taken in Taiwan and posted to YouTube and Facebook has gone viral. The video shows a slimy worm that appears to have a long tongue protruding from its mouth. Since June 5th, when it was posted, the video has been viewed 386,000 and is trending on Facebook.
The video shows a green worm slithering across concrete when a long tongue is shot out and moves around the concrete.
Since the video has come out, scientists have determined the creature is from the Nemertea phylum, better known as a ribbon worm. And the pink tongue? That’s the proboscis, which is an elongated feeding structure in the head. Ribbon worms use these appendages to capture prey.
A student from NCSU described how the proboscis is used to capture prey:
“When the animal senses a prey organism nearby, a circular muscle layer around the proboscis sheath rapidly and vigorously contracts. This contraction forces the fluid from the proboscis sheath into the proboscis and, in the process, literally turns it inside out, blowing it out of the proboscis sheath. The proboscis will rapidly (within second or so) wrap itself around the prey, which is then drawn to the mouth and eaten.”
The footage, which can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQcer6SaW3A, was taken by fisherman Wei Cheng Jian at a Taiwan port.
Nemertean’s vary in length and range from a few millimeters to several feet long. No length was given for this particular ribbon worm but in the video it appears to be a few feet long.
According to Smithsonian, there are over 1000 species of ribbon worms known and the biggest found are almost 200 feet in length.