The International Mystery of the Ghost Slug

The hunter is ghostly white, but down here in the burrows far from the surface that matters not. The hunter touches the walls, exploring to find an opening, however small. Its prey is smaller, outnumbering the hunter hundred to one, and these burrows are purpose built for its survival. But they had never dealt with a creature like the hunter. There, at the bottom of the burrow, it feels an opening, freshly dug out. It twists in the confined, dark space. Pebbles and some exposed root rub against its back as it twists in impossible ways for its head to reach the opening. Slowly it reaches into the burrow, one tiny appendage reaching, reaching, thinning out as it moves forward. Slowly and surely the hunter makes its way through the burrow, ghostly white body thinning to a small proportion of its size and traveling in search of prey. After a short eternity crawling through the tunnels deep underground, the hunter attacks. Its head extends farther out. It clamps on the tail of the unsuspecting worm. And starts feeding.

Selenochlamys ysbrida is a fascinating new species of terrestrial, shell-less gastropod molluscs – a slug! Commonly referred to as the Ghost Slug for its spectral colour, which helped in its naming: ysbrida is derived from the Welsh word ysbrid, meaning ghost or spirit. And that should tell you where this new member of the Trignochlamydidae family was first discovered. But I am not going to spoil the surprise that you can read in the comic below.

Much like how conchologists found out about the Ghost Slug, we at Cooked Illustrations first became aware of the Ghost Slug by digging. We were involved in a different collaborative project that may still see a future, where, out of pure curiosity, we started looking up rare or endemic species (that is: that can only be found in one place) on the British Isles. And lo and behold, we dug and we found: Selenochlamys ysbrida, the elusive worm-eating, pulmonate gastropod, eye-less mollusc whose specimens have only ever been found in and around South Wales in Great Britain. And the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine.

But those two locations are separated by 2864.09 kilometres (we checked)!

My friend, that is exactly the question that set us out on The International Mystery of the Ghost Slug and what we discovered we decided to share with you here.