Humbertium covidum: "Alien" Predatory Flatworm named after COVID-19

Scientists have named a newly discovered species of hammerhead flatworm Humbertium covidum. Sounds familiar? This predatory flatworm was named in homage to all the loved ones that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken from us.

Like its name, the hammerhead flatworm has a distinctive hammer-shaped head. Its slick 3-cm long body is metallic black and, unlike many other flatworm species, lacks stripes or other ornamentation.

ā€‹RelatedWe Don't Talk About Covid, No no no

H. covidum was discovered in two French gardens and one Italian garden - but the species is an alien one in Europe, so scientists surmised that it hitched a ride from Asia via the plant trade.

The flatworm's discovery was later published by French parasitologist Jean-Lou Justine and team in the journal Peer J. The team suggested that the flatworm originated from Asia and managed to spread around the world via plants carried by humans. They also found that H. covidum had been eating slugs and snails, and feared the behaviour would disrupt the surrounding ecosystem.

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Image source: Pierre Gros, Peer J, 2022ā€‹

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