Sunday, February 19, 2006
A new species of flatworm had been discovered in Guam (although I am hard pressed to find out when or what its been named, because the articles online that I have found disclose neither tidbit of information). Fortunately, the articles do mention why this particular yellow, marine species of flatworm is so fascinating. It uses tetrodotoxin, a puffer fish toxin to hunt its prey. It can kill things such as mollusks for food. The study showed that the flatworm wrapped up the mollusks by engulfing the prey and presumable sealing it in a bubble of neurotoxin. However, this toxin does not act as a weapon for hunting. It could also double as a self defense mechanism against fish predators. These flatworms probably obtain the toxin from bacteria within their bodies, but many flatworms obtain toxins from the foods which they consume.
To learn more about tetrodotoxin and the animals other than puffers that also use this powerful weapon, such as frogs, newts and the blue ringed octopus, click here.