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Hammerhead Worm (Bipalium)

These genus of worms are planarians (or "landchovy") and are distinguished from other worms due to their broad flat heads. To date, there are 54 species of this worm known, and if you see one, this may not be good news. So let's look more into this genus and find out why it is considered to be worrisome by many experts.

Physical Description and Behavior

Hammerhead worms are easy to distinguish from most other worms out there due to their head, which is wide like a fan or an odd-looking hammer. They can be seen in a variety of colors and patterns, as shown in the images in the slideshow above.

Fun fact: While most worms get their nutrients from the soil, these flatworms (land planarians) are predatory. They mainly feed on earthworms and sometimes mollusks, which they often find by following slime trails. These worms are considered pests in gardens as they can decimate the earthworm population, which isn't good for gardens.

When they find their prey, they form a sticky secretion to prevent them from running away. They then eject their pharynges through their midsections. This secretes digestive fluids which liquefy their prey before sucking up the liquids into their bodies.

These worms can reproduce both sexually as well as asexually and are all hermaphroditic. While some species reproduce by laying eggs, others prefer to reproduce through fragmentation. In the species that use fragmentation, many of the young will not even develop sexual organs.

Habitat and Location

None of the species under Bipalium have been checked by any red list for vulnerability. That said, there does not seem to be any evidence showing that any species are vulnerable or endangered. Many species are considered invasive in many parts of Europe and the US.

Find out more by checking out the video below!

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