SNAPSHOT: A Tropical Velvet Worm’s Death Trap

By Ernie Mastroianni | May 7, 2019 4:30 pm
(Credit: Alexander Bär)

(Credit: Alexander Bär)

Using nozzle-like extensions on the side of its head, a tropical velvet worm shoots streams of sticky slime when hunting or defending itself.

Within the fluid are “nanoglobules,” tiny balls made of lipids and proteins. Once the slime hits the target, it’s over fast: The movement of the struggling prey, such as beetles and termites, causes the globules to harden into fibers as strong as nylon, creating a netlike trap that immobilizes the unlucky insect.

Remarkably, the ball-to-fiber process appears reversible, but researchers at the University of Kassel in Germany are still working to understand it. If they succeed, the sticky secretions could inspire future polymer fabrication.  

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals
ADVERTISEMENT
NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+