onychophoran

onychophoran

[on-i-kof-er-uhn]

Any of about 90 species of free-living terrestrial invertebrates in the class Onychophora (sometimes considered a phylum). They are sometimes called velvet worms for their velvety skin. The common genus Peripatus occurs in the West Indies, Central America, and northern South America. Onychophorans are slender and segmented; each segment has a pair of short legs. Species range from 0.6 to 6 in. (14–150 mm) long. They live in humid, hidden spots: in forest litter, wood crevices, termite nests, or the soil, sometimes to a depth of more than 3 ft (1 m). They use their jaws to open captured prey (often small insects) and suck out the juices.

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