Our first idea is that our reader’s initial thought was spot on, this could be a leech! Leeches are wide, flat, segmented Annelids that have suction cup-like appendages at each end of their bodies. While some leeches are only a few millimeters long, some grow up to 10 inches! They are often black, brown, or green, and sometimes have spots, stripes, or other markings. Most leeches live in shallow, slow-moving freshwater. There are around 1,000 species of leeches around the world!
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Our next idea is that this mysterious creature is a freshwater flatworm. These flatworms belong to a larger phylum of flatworms known as Platyhelminthes. While many of the other flatworms in this phylum are internal parasites, freshwater flatworms are predators and scavengers of other soft-bodied invertebrates. Species of flatworms exist in most aquatic habitats, but freshwater flatworms are most commonly discovered on the surfaces and undersides of rocks in slow moving water.
In conclusion, a reader sent us a picture of a worm-like organism he found on a river bank. The creature has a wide, flat body with black and brown markings. We believe the specimen is either a leech or a flatworm!
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