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Volume 28, 1895
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Art. XXIII.—Note on the Discovery of Living Specimens of Geonemertes novæ-zealandiæ.

[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 3rd July, 1895.]

In the last volume of the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute”* I described, under the name Geonemertes novæ-zealandiæ, the first specimens of a land nemertine ever re

[Footnote] * Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxvii., p. 192.

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corded from these islands. Two specimens were described, both of which were found amongst spirit-preserved collections of land planarians, for which they had evidently been mistaken. No record has hitherto been made of the appearance of the living animal—indeed, it had never been recognised in the living state until I had the good fortune, in November last, to meet with two specimens in their native haunts. The animal was found under fallen and decaying timber, near the edge of the Alford Forest, at the foot of Mount Somers, and near the Township of Springburn (South Island), associated with land planarians and other cryptozoic animals. It is a curious fact that, even after minutely examining and describing the spirit specimens, I at first mistook the living animal for a planarian. So close is the general resemblance in habits, shape, and markings that I did not discover its true nature until I came to examine it more carefully at home. The following description of the living worm will perhaps help to prevent such mistakes in the future:—

The body, both when at rest and when crawling, is long and slender. The larger of the two specimens when at rest measured about 37mm. in length and 3mm. in breadth, and when crawling 53mm. in length and 2mm. in breadth. The head is rounded, not constricted off from the body, but distinguished by its colour. It bears a narrow vertical slit in front, which is the common opening of the mouth and proboscis-sheath. It also bears four eyes, which are easily recognisable in the living animal, and of which the two upper and inner are smaller and less distinct than the two lower and outer.

The ground-colour of the dorsal surface is pale-yellow, with four longitudinal stripes of dark purplish-brown. The dark stripes of the inner pair are broad, and separated from one another by a narrow median band of yellow; those of the outer pair are very narrow, and separated from the inner each by a very narrow yellow line. The narrow dark stripes lie very near the margins of the dorsal surface. The stripes all cease abruptly a short way behind the eyes, and the head is pale brownish-yellow, quite a distinct tint from the dorsal ground-colour. The ventral surface of the body is nearly white.

The animal crawls very slowly, and leaves behind it a slimy track. As it progresses the head is moved from side to side.