Just some goo and some physics: That’s all a velvet worm needs to trap a beetle before it sucks up its meat like a milkshake. Now, researchers have teased out the physics behind how the goo is spurted out. According to a new study, when the worm is within reach of its prey, the slime glands on either side of its head oscillate and squirt the protein-rich goo out in all directions (as seen in the video above) to envelop prey in mere milliseconds. The worm does not move its head while squirting; instead, rings of accordionlike tiny outgrowths called papillae that crown the goo ducts spin like unattended lawn sprinklers, the team reports today in Nature Communications.
(Video credit: Andres Concha and Bernal Morera-Brenes)