Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ninja slug discovered in Borneo.

Gotta love a scientist who names a slug after his girlfriend. From LiveScience:
An eccentric bunch of species have recently come out of hiding in the rainforests of Borneo, including the world's longest known stick insect — think two skinny pencils end-to-end, a slug that shoots "love darts," and a color-changing frog, scientists announce today.

[...] Ninja slug – This green and yellow slug (Ibycus rachelae) was discovered on leaves in a mountain forest at altitudes up to 6,233 feet (1,900 meters) in Sabah, Malaysia. The slug sports a tail that's three times the length of its head, which it wraps around its 1.6-inch-long (4 cm) body as if a pet cat. In fact, its discoverers initially planned to name the slug Ibycus felis, after its feline inspiration. Instead, they named it after the girlfriend of one of its discoverers, Menno Schilthuizen of the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity 'Naturalis.'

Maybe there's more to the name than meets the eye: The slug species makes use of so-called love darts. Made of calcium carbonate, the love dart is a harpoon-like structure that pierces and injects a hormone into a potential mate. The dart could increase the slug's chances of reproduction.

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