Saturday, October 21, 2006

More of the blues...

Well that was unbelievably lucky.

I just went out into the garden to attempt to find an animal called Caenoplana coerulea or the Blue Planarian (family Geoplanidae). I rarely see it around, occasionally on wet nights I suppose. One recent observation of it was seeing one preying upon a portugese millipede (Ommatoiulus moreleti).

Anyway, I didn't have high hopes but I was after a couple of photos so thought I'd wander around and try to find one. I sometimes see them under rocks and logs and the odd plant pot.

I lifted a single paver and there one was! Got my photos then went out again and continued searching, but with no luck this time around.

The bottom photo indicates how this creature got its common name and species epithet. The undersurface is a lovely blue colour (coerulea or caerulea means blue).

Interestingly there's another similar geoplanid species called Bipalium kewense, the shovel-headed garden worm. Check out the AustMus page for some pics and info. I bring it up because it was originally described in England from Kew gardens (hence kewense), and occurs all over the globe including in Sydney but is now thought to have originated somewhere in Indo-China, and spread from there in pot plant soil and the like.

I bring it up because I've now found out that Caenoplana is a good traveller too! When it was found in California in the fourties, it got described as a new species, Geoplana vaga, before the mistake was discovered. Now Ogren says: "Other localities are known in Tallahassee, Florida (1961); Statesboro, Georgia (1972); San Antonio, Texas (1978) and James Island, Charleston, [South Carolina]". And North Carolina. And Iowa, as of 1999.

I wonder where else it's got to? And what's the secret to the success of this species and Bipalium?

Ogren, R.E. (1989). Redescription and a new name for the blue land planarian Geoplana vaga Hyman now considered conspecific with Caenoplana coerulea Moseley from Australia (Turbellaria: Tricladida: Geoplanidae). Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 63, 135-142.


tapperboy said...

Congrats and just how lucky was that!

Here's another one you might help with an ID for...

David Nelson said...

Ah, how appropriate. It's that cosmopolitan Bipalium kewense, the shovel headed garden worm. Check out the link to the Austmus page.

tapperboy said...

That WAS quick! :)

Darky said...

Continuing the blue theme, just popping in to wish you good luck for the exams - it being jacaranda time over there, and all.
The absence of new posts for a while is a good sign that you're not allowing distractions, but I look forward to more posts when you've time.

Anonymous said...

Great photos of the Blue Planarian. I found one this morning in my back yard (Perth) and had to look it up to find out more.

In response to your question about where else they are; well they are also in Perth.

Chainie B. said...

I just wanted to say thanks so much. I just found one of these critters and had no idea what it was - wasn't sure if it was a leech or worm. Google lead me to this discussion. Great photo, thanks so much. Very clear and easy to ID thanks to your pic.

So FYI, these guys have made it Down Under (Australia) to the forests of Brisbane Queensland.

Anonymous said...

Just found one in Tamworth,NSW, Australia.

Went to Google to find out what it was.
Thanks to this page I did get an answer.

Anonymous said...

holy **** I found one on the floor of my room so I got a piece of paper and put it outside, is it rare?
if it is email me at mman93@hotmail.coms

Johnni said...

Thank you! I found one today under a paver.. Had no clue what it was (other than pretty!) - Google led me here! So it seems they're also in Melbourne Australia... • Johnni

Anonymous said...

I just found one in my garden, and had to google it- I'm in NZ