Meet the carnivorous sea slug that uses its huge, gelatinous head as a fishing net to catch its prey, identified as Melibe viridis. pic.twitter.com/Shdwy8aDRF
— Sofía M. Villalpando (@sofiabiologista) March 28, 2017
Meet Melibe Viridis. Tiny but terrifying. Envelops its prey in its H.R. Giger-esque extendable “mouth-part” – a bit of anatomy tagged with the disturbing but poetic descriptor: “oral veil.” Sorta like a rootless Venus flytrap but with multiple legs. And made out of Ghostbuster slime. Life on earth: always able to ambush us humans with dang-near unimaginable evolutionary marvels.
Here’s the scoop from the unimpeachable savants at the Sea Slug Forum: “There are a number of benthic species of Melibe in the tropical Indo-West Pacific. Melibe viridis can grow to over 120mm in length. Their most unique attribute is their method of feeding. They have lost their radular teeth and have developed the oral veil into a large veil or “fish net” which they use to constantly scan the substrate as they crawl along. When the sensitive papillae on the inner edge of the oral veil touch a small crab or crustacean the edge of the veil is rapidly contracted, trapping the prey, which is then ingested. Some species of Melibe, but not this species, harbour zooxanthellae in their bodies.”