A bizarre invasive worm with its mouth in the middle of its belly has been found in the United States for the first time, according to new research.
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The New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari) is only a couple of millimeters thick but grows to be up to 2.5 inches (65 millimeters) long. As its name suggests, the worm is a New Guinea native, but it has been spreading across the globe, hitching rides on exotic plants and in soil. The worm wraps itself around snails and ingests them with a mouthlike structure on its underside. As an invasive species, it’s a threat to native snails — so much so that the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists it among the 100 worst invasive species in the world.