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Velvet Worm, Peripatidae sp., La Isla Escondida, Colombia <figure class="photo"><a href="https://www.jungledragon.com/image/70653/velvet_worm_peripatidae_sp._-_closeup_la_isla_escondida_colombia.html" title="Velvet Worm, Peripatidae sp. - closeup, La Isla Escondida, Colombia"><img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.jungledragon.com/images/2/70653_thumb.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=05GMT0V3GWVNE7GGM1R2&Expires=1578528010&Signature=ADiU1ZNwrxjVr0UCpEg6xykIWPg%3D" width="200" height="198" alt="Velvet Worm, Peripatidae sp. - closeup, La Isla Escondida, Colombia https://www.jungledragon.com/image/70652/velvet_worm_peripatidae_sp._la_isla_escondida_colombia.html<br />
During moth night 1 at La Isla Escondida our guides kept bringing frogs whilst we were very occupied photographing hundreds of moths so we got into the habit of quickly photographing the frog so that we could continue mothing. On this absurdly productive night, this slipped in. Clearly not a frog, yet we treated it with just as much haste. I&#039;m still glad we at least captured it as for us personally, it&#039;s an entirely new category never seen or photographed before. <br />
<br />
Everybody keeps telling me how special they are so I did some reading, hereby a dumbed down list of cool facts about velvet worms based on my limited understanding of them:<br />
<br />
1. They are named velvet worms because of their skin, which has microscopic protrusions and bristles giving it a velvet look. A velvet worm needs to be constantly hydrated as it will lose 1/3 of its body weight in a matter of hours during drought. That&#039;s why it usually found in the tropics, on wet soil. It has no exoskeleton. It&#039;s skin is so thin (1 micrometer) that it traps a layer of air, which rejects water. A Velvet Worm therefore is always dry on the outside. <br />
<br />
2. They have a unique method to hunt to compensate for their slow pace: they fire glue strings at targets. The substance only becomes glue when it is in contact with air, therefore the Velvet Worm is immune to it. Even if it would hit itself, it slides right of due to its unique (yet vulnerable) skin. Range of the shot is 30-50cm. The glue spreads like a net, therefore a precise aim is not needed. If it&#039;s a hit, the victom is immobilized. It will then be opened using the mouth parts, injected with a digestive protein to dissolve the insides, and then sucked dry. It&#039;s a good thing that it doesn&#039;t need to aim well, because it doesn&#039;t aim at all. There&#039;s no muscles to give the shot direction, direction is random as the fluid moves through the body of the Velvet Worm, creating waves of glue that could go in any direction.<br />
<br />
3. Their legs are not real legs, they are pseudo-legs which lack joints sometimes called balloon legs. They are appendages without any fixed structure and flexibly move in any direction and can even change shape. At the end of each leg is a retractable claw, only used for uneven terrain.<br />
<br />
4. The first velvet worm known lived 540 million years ago, and they have hardly changed during that half a billion years.<br />
<br />
5. They are not insects, and also not arthropods. Scientists have been considering velvet worms to be the missing link between worms living in the sea, and current insects. Strangely, science does not know the ancestor to insects, as the first insects known to science were already fully developed with wings. Some transitional ancestor must have existed before that, and velvet worms can be an answer. Current insights dismiss the velvet worm to be the missing link, instead it is considered a Panarthropoda, a suggested clade to group Velvet Worms, Tardigrades and all Arthropods. With Velvet Worms and Tardigrades of course being the crazy weird animals.<br />
<br />
6. Some Velvet Worms have highly unusual reproductive strategies where the male seemingly randomly deposits his spermatophore on the female&#039;s body, which will then locally dissolve the skin to absorb it, and allow it to pass to her ovaries. This asexual reproduction happens based on chance, a male will equally deposit his stuff on juveniles or other males.<br />
<br />
7. There are about 200 modern species known, divided into Peripatidae (Central America and Northern South America) and Peripatopsidae (Australia, New Zealand)<br />
<br />
8. Other than a host of unique features, it&#039;s easy to distinguish from a worm for having antennae. Antennae that are thick, because they evolved from their first pair of legs. The antennae are critical to detect prey from enemies. Their second pair of legs have evolved as well, into mouth parts. And their third pair of legs have evolved into parts that shoot the silk!<br />
<br />
9. Velvet worm eyes are single lens, not composite, and only function to see radical differences in light in order to see the difference between day and night.<br />
<br />
10. Most Velvet Worms are loners, but there&#039;s one known social species: Euperipatoides rowelli. They hunt in packs, which means a glue party!<br />
<br />
<br />
So yes, I suppose we could call them very special. We&#039;re basically looking at life from half a billion years ago.<br />
<br />
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbVDYSiH-Vw<br />
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY8TgD6-7kg<br />
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42G_XzaPcPo Colombia,Colombia 2018,Colombia South,Fall,Geotagged,La Isla Escondida,Oroperipatus ecuadoriensis,Putumayo,South America,World" /></a></figure><br />
During moth night 1 at La Isla Escondida our guides kept bringing frogs whilst we were very occupied photographing hundreds of moths so we got into the habit of quickly photographing the frog so that we could continue mothing. On this absurdly productive night, this slipped in. Clearly not a frog, yet we treated it with just as much haste. I&#039;m still glad we at least captured it as for us personally, it&#039;s an entirely new category never seen or photographed before. <br />
<br />
Everybody keeps telling me how special they are so I did some reading, hereby a dumbed down list of cool facts about velvet worms based on my limited understanding of them:<br />
<br />
1. They are named velvet worms because of their skin, which has microscopic protrusions and bristles giving it a velvet look. A velvet worm needs to be constantly hydrated as it will lose 1/3 of its body weight in a matter of hours during drought. That&#039;s why it usually found in the tropics, on wet soil. It has no exoskeleton. It&#039;s skin is so thin (1 micrometer) that it traps a layer of air, which rejects water. A Velvet Worm therefore is always dry on the outside. <br />
<br />
2. They have a unique method to hunt to compensate for their slow pace: they fire glue strings at targets. The substance only becomes glue when it is in contact with air, therefore the Velvet Worm is immune to it. Even if it would hit itself, it slides right of due to its unique (yet vulnerable) skin. Range of the shot is 30-50cm. The glue spreads like a net, therefore a precise aim is not needed. If it&#039;s a hit, the victom is immobilized. It will then be opened using the mouth parts, injected with a digestive protein to dissolve the insides, and then sucked dry. It&#039;s a good thing that it doesn&#039;t need to aim well, because it doesn&#039;t aim at all. There&#039;s no muscles to give the shot direction, direction is random as the fluid moves through the body of the Velvet Worm, creating waves of glue that could go in any direction.<br />
<br />
3. Their legs are not real legs, they are pseudo-legs which lack joints sometimes called balloon legs. They are appendages without any fixed structure and flexibly move in any direction and can even change shape. At the end of each leg is a retractable claw, only used for uneven terrain.<br />
<br />
4. The first velvet worm known lived 540 million years ago, and they have hardly changed during that half a billion years.<br />
<br />
5. They are not insects, and also not arthropods. Scientists have been considering velvet worms to be the missing link between worms living in the sea, and current insects. Strangely, science does not know the ancestor to insects, as the first insects known to science were already fully developed with wings. Some transitional ancestor must have existed before that, and velvet worms can be an answer. Current insights dismiss the velvet worm to be the missing link, instead it is considered a Panarthropoda, a suggested clade to group Velvet Worms, Tardigrades and all Arthropods. With Velvet Worms and Tardigrades of course being the crazy weird animals.<br />
<br />
6. Some Velvet Worms have highly unusual reproductive strategies where the male seemingly randomly deposits his spermatophore on the female&#039;s body, which will then locally dissolve the skin to absorb it, and allow it to pass to her ovaries. This asexual reproduction happens based on chance, a male will equally deposit his stuff on juveniles or other males.<br />
<br />
7. There are about 200 modern species known, divided into Peripatidae (Central America and Northern South America) and Peripatopsidae (Australia, New Zealand)<br />
<br />
8. Other than a host of unique features, it&#039;s easy to distinguish from a worm for having antennae. Antennae that are thick, because they evolved from their first pair of legs. The antennae are critical to detect prey from enemies. Their second pair of legs have evolved as well, into mouth parts. And their third pair of legs have evolved into parts that shoot the silk!<br />
<br />
9. Velvet worm eyes are single lens, not composite, and only function to see radical differences in light in order to see the difference between day and night.<br />
<br />
10. Most Velvet Worms are loners, but there&#039;s one known social species: Euperipatoides rowelli. They hunt in packs, which means a glue party!<br />
<br />
<br />
So yes, I suppose we could call them very special. We&#039;re basically looking at life from half a billion years ago.<br />
<br />
<section class="video"><iframe width="448" height="282" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FbVDYSiH-Vw?hd=1&autoplay=0&rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></section><br />
<section class="video"><iframe width="448" height="282" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LY8TgD6-7kg?hd=1&autoplay=0&rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></section><br />
<section class="video"><iframe width="448" height="282" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/42G_XzaPcPo?hd=1&autoplay=0&rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></section><br />
 Colombia,Colombia 2018,Colombia South,Fall,Geotagged,La Isla Escondida,Oroperipatus ecuadoriensis,Putumayo,South America,World Click/tap to enlarge PromotedSpecies introCountry intro

Velvet Worm, Peripatidae sp., La Isla Escondida, Colombia

Velvet Worm, Peripatidae sp. - closeup, La Isla Escondida, Colombia https://www.jungledragon.com/image/70652/velvet_worm_peripatidae_sp._la_isla_escondida_colombia.html<br />
During moth night 1 at La Isla Escondida our guides kept bringing frogs whilst we were very occupied photographing hundreds of moths so we got into the habit of quickly photographing the frog so that we could continue mothing. On this absurdly productive night, this slipped in. Clearly not a frog, yet we treated it with just as much haste. I'm still glad we at least captured it as for us personally, it's an entirely new category never seen or photographed before. <br />
<br />
Everybody keeps telling me how special they are so I did some reading, hereby a dumbed down list of cool facts about velvet worms based on my limited understanding of them:<br />
<br />
1. They are named velvet worms because of their skin, which has microscopic protrusions and bristles giving it a velvet look. A velvet worm needs to be constantly hydrated as it will lose 1/3 of its body weight in a matter of hours during drought. That's why it usually found in the tropics, on wet soil. It has no exoskeleton. It's skin is so thin (1 micrometer) that it traps a layer of air, which rejects water. A Velvet Worm therefore is always dry on the outside. <br />
<br />
2. They have a unique method to hunt to compensate for their slow pace: they fire glue strings at targets. The substance only becomes glue when it is in contact with air, therefore the Velvet Worm is immune to it. Even if it would hit itself, it slides right of due to its unique (yet vulnerable) skin. Range of the shot is 30-50cm. The glue spreads like a net, therefore a precise aim is not needed. If it's a hit, the victom is immobilized. It will then be opened using the mouth parts, injected with a digestive protein to dissolve the insides, and then sucked dry. It's a good thing that it doesn't need to aim well, because it doesn't aim at all. There's no muscles to give the shot direction, direction is random as the fluid moves through the body of the Velvet Worm, creating waves of glue that could go in any direction.<br />
<br />
3. Their legs are not real legs, they are pseudo-legs which lack joints sometimes called balloon legs. They are appendages without any fixed structure and flexibly move in any direction and can even change shape. At the end of each leg is a retractable claw, only used for uneven terrain.<br />
<br />
4. The first velvet worm known lived 540 million years ago, and they have hardly changed during that half a billion years.<br />
<br />
5. They are not insects, and also not arthropods. Scientists have been considering velvet worms to be the missing link between worms living in the sea, and current insects. Strangely, science does not know the ancestor to insects, as the first insects known to science were already fully developed with wings. Some transitional ancestor must have existed before that, and velvet worms can be an answer. Current insights dismiss the velvet worm to be the missing link, instead it is considered a Panarthropoda, a suggested clade to group Velvet Worms, Tardigrades and all Arthropods. With Velvet Worms and Tardigrades of course being the crazy weird animals.<br />
<br />
6. Some Velvet Worms have highly unusual reproductive strategies where the male seemingly randomly deposits his spermatophore on the female's body, which will then locally dissolve the skin to absorb it, and allow it to pass to her ovaries. This asexual reproduction happens based on chance, a male will equally deposit his stuff on juveniles or other males.<br />
<br />
7. There are about 200 modern species known, divided into Peripatidae (Central America and Northern South America) and Peripatopsidae (Australia, New Zealand)<br />
<br />
8. Other than a host of unique features, it's easy to distinguish from a worm for having antennae. Antennae that are thick, because they evolved from their first pair of legs. The antennae are critical to detect prey from enemies. Their second pair of legs have evolved as well, into mouth parts. And their third pair of legs have evolved into parts that shoot the silk!<br />
<br />
9. Velvet worm eyes are single lens, not composite, and only function to see radical differences in light in order to see the difference between day and night.<br />
<br />
10. Most Velvet Worms are loners, but there's one known social species: Euperipatoides rowelli. They hunt in packs, which means a glue party!<br />
<br />
<br />
So yes, I suppose we could call them very special. We're basically looking at life from half a billion years ago.<br />
<br />
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbVDYSiH-Vw<br />
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY8TgD6-7kg<br />
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42G_XzaPcPo Colombia,Colombia 2018,Colombia South,Fall,Geotagged,La Isla Escondida,Oroperipatus ecuadoriensis,Putumayo,South America,World

During moth night 1 at La Isla Escondida our guides kept bringing frogs whilst we were very occupied photographing hundreds of moths so we got into the habit of quickly photographing the frog so that we could continue mothing. On this absurdly productive night, this slipped in. Clearly not a frog, yet we treated it with just as much haste. I'm still glad we at least captured it as for us personally, it's an entirely new category never seen or photographed before.

Everybody keeps telling me how special they are so I did some reading, hereby a dumbed down list of cool facts about velvet worms based on my limited understanding of them:

1. They are named velvet worms because of their skin, which has microscopic protrusions and bristles giving it a velvet look. A velvet worm needs to be constantly hydrated as it will lose 1/3 of its body weight in a matter of hours during drought. That's why it usually found in the tropics, on wet soil. It has no exoskeleton. It's skin is so thin (1 micrometer) that it traps a layer of air, which rejects water. A Velvet Worm therefore is always dry on the outside.

2. They have a unique method to hunt to compensate for their slow pace: they fire glue strings at targets. The substance only becomes glue when it is in contact with air, therefore the Velvet Worm is immune to it. Even if it would hit itself, it slides right of due to its unique (yet vulnerable) skin. Range of the shot is 30-50cm. The glue spreads like a net, therefore a precise aim is not needed. If it's a hit, the victom is immobilized. It will then be opened using the mouth parts, injected with a digestive protein to dissolve the insides, and then sucked dry. It's a good thing that it doesn't need to aim well, because it doesn't aim at all. There's no muscles to give the shot direction, direction is random as the fluid moves through the body of the Velvet Worm, creating waves of glue that could go in any direction.

3. Their legs are not real legs, they are pseudo-legs which lack joints sometimes called balloon legs. They are appendages without any fixed structure and flexibly move in any direction and can even change shape. At the end of each leg is a retractable claw, only used for uneven terrain.

4. The first velvet worm known lived 540 million years ago, and they have hardly changed during that half a billion years.

5. They are not insects, and also not arthropods. Scientists have been considering velvet worms to be the missing link between worms living in the sea, and current insects. Strangely, science does not know the ancestor to insects, as the first insects known to science were already fully developed with wings. Some transitional ancestor must have existed before that, and velvet worms can be an answer. Current insights dismiss the velvet worm to be the missing link, instead it is considered a Panarthropoda, a suggested clade to group Velvet Worms, Tardigrades and all Arthropods. With Velvet Worms and Tardigrades of course being the crazy weird animals.

6. Some Velvet Worms have highly unusual reproductive strategies where the male seemingly randomly deposits his spermatophore on the female's body, which will then locally dissolve the skin to absorb it, and allow it to pass to her ovaries. This asexual reproduction happens based on chance, a male will equally deposit his stuff on juveniles or other males.

7. There are about 200 modern species known, divided into Peripatidae (Central America and Northern South America) and Peripatopsidae (Australia, New Zealand)

8. Other than a host of unique features, it's easy to distinguish from a worm for having antennae. Antennae that are thick, because they evolved from their first pair of legs. The antennae are critical to detect prey from enemies. Their second pair of legs have evolved as well, into mouth parts. And their third pair of legs have evolved into parts that shoot the silk!

9. Velvet worm eyes are single lens, not composite, and only function to see radical differences in light in order to see the difference between day and night.

10. Most Velvet Worms are loners, but there's one known social species: Euperipatoides rowelli. They hunt in packs, which means a glue party!


So yes, I suppose we could call them very special. We're basically looking at life from half a billion years ago.




    comments (15)

  1. This is awesome!!!!!!!! Posted one year ago
  2. And the info is sooooo great! Posted one year ago
    1. Thanks, Christine! I wish I had spent more time with this incredible creature.
      Was also hoping to ID it as to open a whole new phylum on JD. Unlikely to happen based on my search so far, so very few photos and material online. I think a great key on this one is the clear red line, but it may very likely be an undescribed species. The only other hope is that there's some expert somewhere with offline material.

      I know what I want for xmas, this one ID-ed!
      Posted one year ago
      1. Well then, I'm posting this as my Facebook post on Thursday, and will share with every nature group I know to see if we can get your wish granted! Posted one year ago
        1. Awwww, thanks! Waiting in front of the xmas tree. Posted one year ago
          1. Lol, hope it doesn't dry out and drop its needles before we get a clue... Posted one year ago
            1. VWs in the genus Oroperipatus appear to have the head stripe. Not sure if that means anything though. It's definitely difficult to find photos of the different genera online!

              https://www.naturepl.com/search/preview/velvet-worm-oroperipatus-ecuadoriensis-jatun-sacha-biological-station-napo/0_01496848.html
              Posted one year ago
              1. Holy **** Christine! I've been searching every velvet worm image on the web for 2 days now (there's not that many though) and never saw that one, only one with a white stripe.

                And it gets better, I am reasonable sure that this is actually a match! I'm zooming in on that image to the max, check out the comparison:

                - Amount of leg pairs: check, there's 36 in both (very important key for velvet worms)
                - Body color: check
                - Stripe across body: check
                - Overall build: check
                - Red stripe on head: check
                - Location: check (we're only miles away from Ecuador)

                I suppose I really *want* it to match but no matter how hard I try, I don't see any difference at all between both observations. I don't know if the genus has similar looking species that could also match, the information seems lacking. Based on leg count and location, I'm think this is good enough for at least a tentative species ID.

                You rock, xmas comes early this year :)
                Posted one year ago, modified one year ago
              2. Look, the original photographer also has a version with the juvenile in it:
                http://gilwizen.com/photography/onychophora/

                I'm going to send him/her a message for verification, and meanwhile set the tentative ID. Now all we need is a tardigrade!
                Posted one year ago
                1. Huh! Wow, that would be so awesome if it is a match!!! Posted one year ago
                  1. It definitely looks like a good possibility! Posted one year ago
  3. Absolutely awesome!!! Thank you for sharing with us! Posted one year ago
  4. From today's JungleDragon Facebook post...It might be a teeny-weeny bit long:

    "Velvet worms are mysterious. They have bizarre sexual practices and savage hunting strategies. They are loners with an intriguing, cuddly appearance. Despite their name, velvet worms are not actually worms; neither are they insects, slugs, millipedes, or centipedes. Velvet worms belong in their own phylum: Onychophora. These charming animals come in a array of colors and reach up to 10 cm in length. They make their homes in dark, moist environments in the tropical and temperate regions of the southern hemisphere. Velvet worms have countless weird, complex features and behaviors that make them one of the most wonderfully weird creatures on the planet. Their bodies are covered with rows of scales, which give them a velvety appearance. The scales repel excess water, thus allowing velvet worms to live in wet environments without succumbing to overhydration. Velvet worms don't have external or internal skeletons. Instead, their bodies are fluid-filled and pressurized. Using hydrostatic locomotion, they can bend and compress their bodies and blob-like legs in different directions to move over a variety of surfaces with ease.

    Their physical characteristics may be unique, but their reproductive and predatory tactics take their eccentricities to the next level. Species of velvet worms reproduce in various ways; some lay eggs, while others have males depositing sperm on the female's head, body, or directly into the female's genital opening. In species where a male plops his sperm on his mate's body, the female's skin produces enzymes that dissolve the sperm and burn her own skin in the process. Through this wound, she can absorb the sperm into her bloodstream and then transport it to her ovaries where she can store it or use it to fertilize her eggs. Sperm can be stored for quite awhile, which is a good thing considering velvet worms are mostly loners and since males lack discernment when depositing their sperm—meaning, they will leave it on males, females, and juveniles without any apparent rational thought.

    Despite their docile appearance, velvet worms are formidable, ambush predators. They may just be the embodiment of their opponent's worst nightmare. They feast on arthropods and other small invertebrates. Their method of capturing prey is beyond awesome. Basically, they use slime as a weapon. They capture prey by spraying them with sticky slime that comes out of glands on their heads. These glands, aka slime canons, blast slime out like a sprinkler, using a syringe-like action. They can shoot the slime as far as 30 cm (1 ft)! The slime is an incredible substance! It consists mostly of water and a little bit of protein. The water keeps the proteins randomly spread out and inert; but, once the slime hits the victim, the water evaporates and allows the proteins to form tight chemical bonds that make them get incredibly sticky and hard. Once the prey is immobilized by the slime, the velvet worm rips it open using retractable claws on the ends of its legs. Then, it spits enzymes into the victim's body cavity. The enzymes dissolve the prey into a soupy substance, which the velvet worm then slurps up like a smoothie. Yum? {Spotted in Colombia by JungleDragon founder, Ferdy Christant} #JungleDragon"
    Posted one year ago
    1. Wow, excellent post! Even though you should be in bed :)
      PS: dutch Wikipedia mention they can grow to 20cm, but this is probably an exceptional length.
      Posted one year ago
      1. Thanks Ferdy! And, don't worry - I am behaving and resting in bed more than I'm not. But, I can't be too much of a "good girl" because it would be out of character :-P

        And, 20 cm!! That's huge! I'd love to see a velvet worm of any length someday.
        Posted one year ago, modified one year ago

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''Oroperipatus ecuadoriensis'' is a species of velvet worm in the Peripatidae family. The type locality is in Ecuador.

Similar species: Velvet Worms
Species identified by Ferdy Christant
View Ferdy Christant's profile

By Ferdy Christant

All rights reserved
Uploaded Dec 10, 2018. Captured Oct 18, 2018 20:20 in Orito, Putumayo, Colombia.
  • NIKON D850
  • f/16.0
  • 1/60s
  • ISO64
  • 105mm