Usually, the observations that amateur gardeners are making do not end up as the subject of scientific studies. Not this time. Thanks to an eagle-eyed French naturalist called Pierre Gros, we now know that giant predatory worms from Asia are invading France. According to a new study which the journal Peer J recently published, until now, scientists were not careful enough to notice an invasion of large animals. In the end, about 100 citizen scientists helped in identifying five different species of giant predatory worms that can grow up to 10 inches long, in France.
Gros’ journey began back in 2013 when he took a photo of a very large and unusual worm in his garden. This worm supposedly traveled to France from Asia using plants. Somehow, Gros’ photos reached zoologist Jean-Lou Justine of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, who is also the leader of the new study. At first, the expert could not believe his eyes because that type of worm did not live in France. He thought of it as a prank, but when Gros offered him more proof of their existence, the two began a journey to find out more about these worms.
The giant predatory flatworms that have invaded France
These worms have a very unique, arrow-shaped flat head. In a way, they resemble hammerhead sharks. Most of their study was based on people’s sightings of the worms. Soon, the researchers were receiving lots of photos and telephones from people who had witnessed the creatures.
According to this new study, the giant flatworms are reproducing asexually, and prey on smaller worms, after stunning them with some toxins. These worms also produce a bizarre substance that allows them to stick to their victims while they are killing them. Interestingly enough, these flatworms are not only found in France now. Reports have come from New Zeeland, Brazil, Australia, and Papua New Guinea too.
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