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24 Jul, 2019 08:48

Flesh-eating ‘Obama worm’ invading Europe through Spain, threatens local ecosystem

Flesh-eating ‘Obama worm’ invading Europe through Spain, threatens local ecosystem

A 7cm-long flatworm with hundreds of eyes along the length of its body has been accidentally imported from South America and is now threatening soil quality and local wildlife in Spain, with possibly more drastic consequences.

The Obama flatworm (Obama nungara) has been spotted thriving in the rice paddies of the Parc Natural de L’Albufera in Valencia. Conservationist group SEO/Birdlife raised the alarm earlier this week.

While this predatory species feasts on earthworms and land snails, it has no known natural predators itself, because it tastes so foul that birds refuse to eat it after one bite. Researchers believe it came to Spain in exotic pot plants imported from Brazil.

The parasite, which is named after the Brazilian Tupi words for leaf (oba) and animal (ma) rather than the former US president, threatens to decimate the native earthworm population and, in doing so, disrupt the health and fertility of local soil, which will spark a domino effect for the entire regional food chain.

In addition, the decreased soil stability would increase the risk of both flooding and landslides, as well as diminishing crop production. 

The Obama worm is one of at least six invasive species of Latin American origin that have been detected in Spain, while other European nations have experienced similar invasions in recent years.

Also on rt.com Alien invasion: French territory under siege from giant predatory worms (PHOTOS)

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