More Velvet Worm Photos

30mm | January 18, 2011 | Gandoca-Manzanillo NWR, Limon Province, Costa Rica

This post is a follow-up to the last identification challenge. There, I challenged readers to identify what turned out to be the velvet worm shown above. As I explained in the reveal, it was no accident that I encountered one of these onychophorans. I had researched ahead of time to increase my chances of finding one. Even prepared, I only found this one individual.

Attempting to wedge into a hiding spot

This post was delayed in part because I went a bit camera crazy when I found it. It took me awhile to sort through all the photos I took. It was shy at first, remaining frozen where it had been exposed beneath a small piece of wood. That didn’t make for a nice photo at all, so I eventually prodded it and got it moving about. Once moving though, it wouldn’t stop!

Despite my prodding and constant corralling, it never felt threatened enough to slime me. By that, I mean it never squirted slime from special glands located in modified limbs, one of which is visible in the second photo below. The slime is used both to immobile prey and for defense.

On the move

Slime gland visible to right of eye

The body surface is covered with papillae, giving it a velvety appearance (hence the common name). This one has a noticeable mid-dorsal line. That line is broken by what might be a healed wound, visible towards the left of this photo. Compare the length of the antennae below with the next photo. They really have a lot of range!

Note dorsal wound and antennae flexibility

The antennae can really stretch out

I flipped it over a few times to try and get some shots of the underside. Here’s one of those.


I have one more post planned from this encounter. There, I’ll talk about identification characters for onychophorans and a determination for this individual.

More to come in a later post

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2 Responses to More Velvet Worm Photos

  1. What a great set of photos.

  2. Pingback: Velvet Worm Identification : Nature Closeups

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