is named in tribute
conservationists have begun a project to ensure the survival
of a rare carnivorous worm, found only in one flooded
gravel pit in the UK, and which was named after retired
Leeds lecturer, Joe Jennings.
Jennings joined the University as an undergraduate in
1949, gained a first-class honours in zoology and went
on to become a senior lecturer, retiring in 1991. His
teaching and training in research methods inspired many
students, among them (Professor) Ray Gibson and (Dr) Johnstone
Young, who discovered the worm Prostoma jenningsi sp.
nov. in 1967 at a pond near Croston, and named it in tribute
to their former teacher.
worm is two centimetres long, reddish brown, with four
to six black eyespots on the top of its head and, despite
its size, a ferocious predator. It captures its prey by
shooting out an internal proboscis half its own body length.
Some of its relatives in marine waters grow over a hundred
feet in length – the longest specimen at 150ft was found
on the shore at St Andrews in 1874.
is only one other known freshwater proboscis worm in Britain,
and despite exhaustive searches of more than 200 other
ponds in the Merseyside and Wirral areas, no other populations
of the Jennings worm have been found.
the only species endemic to Lancashire alone, the County
Council have made the Jennings worm a flagship species
in its biodiversity action plan, and the Wildlife Trust
has begun conservation work to ensure the worm’s survival.
more information, see the Lancashire biodiversity action