I came across the creature shown in the photo below yesterday evening while walking the dogs. At first, I thought it was an earthworm, but a flashlight revealed it to be something I had never seen before.

It is approximately 12 inches (300 mm) in length and about 1/3 of an inch (10 mm) in diameter at its maximum. It is pitch black and very shiny—like piano black. It moves very slowly, using a snake-like motion. It had a very strange head, like a hammerhead shark.

I live in Durban, South Africa, if that helps to narrow down the possibilities.

Can anyone help in identifying this creature?

  • $\begingroup$ Was it moving (like most animals, including earthworm) do? Also, is it climbing up the wall? or it is floor? $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Jan 9 '17 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, the picture is of concrete paving and yes it was moving, but very slowly, not as slow as a slug, more like a very lazy snake movement $\endgroup$ – Graham Mattsson Jan 9 '17 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ Why sorry? Both the photograph and descriptions are good enough to your effort. It was just a suggestion to improve the description. You could add this details, that would make the creature less-weird when I'll try to imagine it from the photograph. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Jan 9 '17 at 19:31
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    $\begingroup$ Careful, they might be deadly :) . youtube.com/watch?v=XW8F1boWgv0 $\endgroup$ – Patrick Jan 9 '17 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ @bic: I would guess that is 0.3 inches, 10 mm, from the photo and the quoted length. $\endgroup$ – Ross Millikan Jan 10 '17 at 1:51

Hmm, I don't believe I have ever seen that before, but it looks like a Hammerhead Worm (Bipalium kewense).

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    $\begingroup$ Fascinating. Once of your links documents this creature as being an invasive species in Texas, although I have never come across it. It's particularly interesting that it produces tetrodotoxin, probably as an aid to killing its earthworm prey. $\endgroup$ – Cody Gray Jan 9 '17 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ Fascinating indeed. Here is a very interesting read about Platydemus manokwari, an invasive flatworm from new Guinea. $\endgroup$ – Ria Jan 9 '17 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry I meant to say that on your link to Bipalium kewense, the hammerhead worm looks very similar to the one I saw in my garden crossing the paving, but was totally shiny black and round in girth, I meant to say 3/8" and not 3 inches in diameter (10mm). $\endgroup$ – Graham Mattsson Jan 9 '17 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ "Slug" feels like a misleading term, since that is normally a common name for some molluscs (snails), while this is Platyhelminth (flatworm) $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Jan 10 '17 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater You are right, my bad... $\endgroup$ – Ria Jan 10 '17 at 12:21

That looks like a predatory land flatworm. They eat snails and worms. I think they are native to New Zealand, but have been introduced to many parts of the US through ornamental plants.


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    $\begingroup$ The OP pretty clearly states the photograph was taken in Durban, South Africa. Additionally, none of the images in your Wikipedia link are similar to the one provided. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Jan 10 '17 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ Missed the location. I see that now. In the Wikipedia article if you scroll down and look at the "variety" picture there is one that is pretty close except for it has a stripe down the back. Incidentally, I've seen black ones that look exactly like the one pictured in OP's original question several times in Southern California. I used to see the striped one like in the wikipedia picture frequently in Central Texas. $\endgroup$ – Cowan Jan 10 '17 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Cowan, There is a similar picture on the subject of Hammerhead worm shown in Google images. I was very fascinated as I have never seen this before. $\endgroup$ – Graham Mattsson Jan 16 '17 at 19:49

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