By Anupum Pant
Ninja slug is one of those 100 new species (since as 2007) that have been found in Sabah Borneo, an island in Malaysia. These are the longest insects (although not insects, they are more closely related to Octopi) among any new ones that have been found. They are only found in a fairly high altitude region of Borneo, from 1200 to 1900 meters. They live on tree leaves. And since they are slugs, they of course don’t carry around their own homes (read shells). Actually, no. More about the shells later.
In the map below marked with a red place marker, in the whole wide world, these ninja slugs are found just there. No where else.
They have long tail-like-things, about three times the size of their heads, behind their bodies which are usually wrapped around their bodies like a cat would normally do while sleeping. That is the reason they were almost given a scientific name with “Felis” in it. But the scientist who first discovered it wanted to name it after his girlfriend. and he called it “Ibycus Rachelae”.
These creatures fall into a category known as the semi-slugs. That means they sort of have a shell on them, but it isn’t a shell that’s enough for them to live in.
What is most interesting about them, the actual reason I even decided to write about these ninja slugs is their unusual breeding ritual. The males of these slugs are probably considered dangerous by their females. That’s because the males like to fire hard harpoons like darts made of CaCo3 towards their females during their mating process. Also commonly known as “love darts.” – as shown in the electron microscope image here. And that’s how we gave them the name, ninja slugs.
These harpoons penetrate the skin of the female and are said to create a hormone in the female which probably increases the chance of the male impregnating the female.
Life’s certainly tough in the slug world.