Sea worm thought to be extinct spotted off Spain

October 5, 2009

A sea worm that uses a trunk to catch prey that was thought to be extinct has been rediscovered in the waters of the Atlantic off northwestern Spain, researchers said Monday.

Spanish zoologist Juan Junoy from the University of Alcala de Henares near Madrid discovered 21 of the bright red Lineus acutifrons at the National Park of the Atlantic Islands in Galicia, the university said in a statement.

"The only news we had of this species is of a description of them at an Irish beach in 1913. Since that year they had never been captured again, and the scientific validity of the description was questioned, and the species considered to be extinct," it said.

The worm, which can reach a length of 25 centimetres (10 inches), is blind and uses chemical receptors to locate its prey.

Unlike the massive hotel complexes found along Spain's southern coastline, the Galician coast is largely undeveloped. It features instead a maze of coves, caves and inlets that have long made it a smuggler's paradise.

(c) 2009 AFP

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