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Strangest Invertebrate Ever

A Nemertean Worm – 1 of 13 terrestrial species recorded worldwide – four are known to exist in Australia (Argonemertes: australiensis; dendyi; hillii; stocki). The identification of this individual has not been confirmed and may be new to science or require a range extension.


All species found in Australia are from the Argonemertes genus. Jon

Norenburgj from the Smithsonian Institution suspects that this individual could belong to the species Argonemertes australienis known from south-eastern Australia and Tasmania but without DNA confirmation it is difficult to conclude.


Terrestrial nemerteans need damp, dark and cool habitats, under rotting logs, in leaf litter or, less often, under stones, in lands where the climate is equable and suitably damp. There are serious worries that some of the terrestrial species may be extinct, or at least have suffered significant declines in their abundance (Moore, Gibson, Jones 2001).


Nemertea (ribbon worms) are characterised by a long, eversible proboscis held in a hollow proboscis sheath (rhynchocoel) above the digestive tract. The Phylum also has distinct circulatory systems and a tubular gut with anus. The nemertean proboscis normally is used for prey capture but in most terrestrial and some intertidal species it also is used as a very effective escape mechanism. Marine species are known to feed by shooting out the very long thin proboscis which is either sticky or has poisonous hooks. The prey is entangled in the proboscis and drawn towards the worm's mouth.


Superregnum: Eukaryota

Regnum: Animalia

Subregnum: Eumetazoa

Cladus: Bilateria

Cladus: Protostomia

Superphylum: Lophotrochozoa

Phylum: Nemertea

Classis: Enopla

Ordo: Hoplonemertea

Subordo: Monostilifera

Familia: Tetrastemmatidae


Possible Genera: Algonemertes - Amphinemertes - Arenonemertes - Nemertellina - Prostoma - Prostomatella - Prostomiopsis - Sacconemertella - Sacconemertes - Sacconemertopsis – Tetrastemma

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Taken on December 25, 2008