Peripatoides novaezealandiae

Velvet worms (also known as “peripatus”) are invertebrates (2 – 8 cm long) that look a bit like caterpillars with pairs of stumpy legs along the length of their body. They are usually found on the forest floor, where they will spray a sticky substance on their prey, dissolving it into a soup before slurping it up for kai. They are believed to live for about 5 years, and females can produce 10–20 offspring each year. Some species lay eggs, but most hatch them internally and bear live young.

Peripatus are in the phylum Onychophora. There are approximately 200 species of peripatus worldwide, and there may be up to 30 species in NZ (though only 9 species have been described to date). They are called ‘living fossils’ as they have remained remarkably unchanged for the past 500 million years.

Check these links for more info on the Velvet Worm in NZ

Wikipedia: Information on Peripatoides

Department of Conservation: New Zealand Peripatus / Ngāokeoke


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