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Ghost Slug reaches Top 10 New Species in the World

The ‘charismatic' Ghost Slug, first discovered in a Cardiff garden in 2007, has been named by the International Institute for Species Exploration as one of the top new species described last year across the World.

The International Institute for Species Exploration announces an annual list of the Top 10 New Species around the World. A ‘surprising find in such a well-collected and densely populated area', the Ghost Slug, or Selenochlamys ysbryda, as named by experts at National Museum Cardiff, was chosen alongside nine other species described in 2008.

Biologists at National Museum Cardiff and Cardiff University were amazed when shown specimens of the slug, whose relatives are found in Turkey and Georgia, by a member of the public.

Unlike most slugs, the Ghost Slug is carnivorous and kills earthworms at night with powerful, blade-like teeth, sucking them in like spaghetti. It has no eyes, is completely white and lives underground, squeezing its flexible body into cracks to get at the worms.

When scientists realised it was an undescribed species that had no scientific name, they decided to call the creature Selenochlamys ysbryda, partly from the Welsh word ysbryd, meaning 'ghost'. Ben Rowson, a biologist at National Museum Cardiff who first studied the slug explains:

"Selenochlamys ysbryda seemed appropriate for this spooky, nocturnal hunter and indicates where it was first found. We think this is the first time a Welsh word has been used in an animal's scientific name."

Other species on the International Institute for Species Exploration's list are a pea-sized seahorse, caffeine-free coffee and bacteria that live in hairspray. More information can be found at:

To monitor the Ghost Slug's spread, the Museum has produced a simple identification guide available from Museums with natural history collections and staff, such as National Museum Cardiff, are often the best place to identify unusual animals or plants, and most welcome enquiries from the public.