Scientific identify: Onychophorans
Family: Peripatidae and Peripatopsidae
What do they appear to be? The velvet worms appear to be slugs with legs. They have an extended physique with 14 to 43 pairs of stubby legs (relying on the species and intercourse) and on the head finish there's a pair of antennae. The pores and skin of the animal appears to be like relatively velvety, therefore the frequent identify. They vary in dimension from 1.4 to 20 cm. Most of the species are comparatively small.
Where do they stay? All of these animals are discovered within the Southern Hemisphere. They are recognized from the tropical areas, such because the East Indies, the Himalayas, the Congo, the West Indies, northern South America and temperate areas, together with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Andes. Although their distribution encompasses a variety of climatic zones they're all the time present in affiliation with cool, moist microhabitats.
The velvet worms have been first described in 1826 and on the time they have been thought to be associated to the slugs, snails, and different mollusks. Today, way more is understood about these animals, however they nonetheless arouse curiosity due to their fascinating biology. All velvet worms are predators and they catch their prey in a really fascinating manner. Most species emerge from their daytime hideaways to hunt for prey within the humid cool of the evening. They amble alongside on their quick, fats legs utilizing the sensory organs of their antennae to detect the faint indicators of their prey, which incorporates absolutely anything smaller than themselves. When they decide up the scent of their prey they may observe the path till they're virtually on prime of their quarry. Their eyesight just isn't the perfect, however their sense of odor and contact are very properly developed. Ready to strike, the velvet worm can make use of its secret weapon. Either facet of the velvet worm’s mouth there's a small fl eshy turret. These lumps are linked to massive glands contained in the animal that produce a sticky slime. With the prey in its sights, the velvet worm rears up and squirts two streams of slime on the unlucky prey. Thisslime will be squirted up to 30cm and virtually instantly it begins to harden, entangling the prey in a internet of sticky threads. With the prey incapacitated, the velvet worm ambles over to it and begins to feed by passing toxic saliva into the physique of the animal, which begins the digestion course of. The velvet worm then sucks the partially digested tissues into its mouth. Apart from their superb feeding conduct, some species of velvet worm have additionally developed a singular manner of fertilizing their eggs. The males of these species crawl over the feminine’s physique and deposit a small packet of sperm (spermatophore) randomly on her facet or again. Over time a feminine could accumulate a number of such packets from quite a lot of males. Somehow, the spermatophores set off blood cells inside the feminine to dissolve the underlying pores and skin, permitting the sperm to escape from their parcel into the physique cavity of the feminine. Free within the feminine’s blood the sperm should swim for the feminine’s sperm storage organs, the place fertilization will happen. This just isn't the one complexity within the reproductive conduct of this animal. Some species lay eggs. Other species produce eggs that hatch inside the feminine’s physique. Just a few species of velvet worm have distributed with shelled eggs altogether and give beginning to stay younger. These younger are nourished inside the feminine’s physique by a secretion produced by the uterus, which reaches the younger both by way of a particular membrane or a direct placental-like connection to the uterine wall.