Onychophora Velvet Worms

Velvet worms are giants compared with tardigrades, for some individuals reach a length of 15 cm, but they share many characteristics with this sister phylum of Arthropoda. They are generally nocturnal and move by extending their legs, with hydrostatic pressure generated by muscular contraction within the legs.

Though most are herbivores or omnivores, many species consume small arthropods in a rather unique manner. They attack their prey and also defend themselves from predators by expelling a sticky, proteinaceous substance that entangles the target. This glue is produced by slime glands within oral papillae. The onychophoran then bites and secretes toxins to kill and partially liquefy the victim.

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