Velvet Worm


This fabulously decadent fellow is the velvet worm, so named for his downy skin, but the plush appearance of this oddity has nothing on its rather curious hunting habits. This chap bimbles through the forest, like a worm with legs in a smoking jacket, looking for victims by quite literally sniffing them out. When he finds a hapless individual he rears up and squirts goo everywhere like a primordial spiderman. The victim is stuck fast by the threads and all the dastardley velvet worm has to do is inject it with its poisonous saliva and suck the gooey insides out. After a fine brunch he will spend a good bit of time chomping up all his sticky stuff to use on some other hapless chap.

This rather spider-like way of eating is no coincidence. Although originally scientists thought it was a type of worm, it seems that this fellow is actually a lot closer related to the spiders. Some learned types have proposed that it is a link between the earthworms and the spiders.

Evolution lesson over, lets get back to oddities, and what better oddities to follow than obscene oddities. One knows by now that you are aware that I have a predilection for the somewhat obscene, and the Velvet Worm is just that. You see this bounder has rather odd mating habits.

perhaps you'd like to come upstairs to see my etchings?

perhaps you'd like to come upstairs to see my etchings?

The male, which is much smaller than the female, deposits his sperm in a sac and leaves it on the females back. These can build up and there are oft many of these spermatophores from different males all over her. Then by sheer jiggery-pokery the packages are absorbed into the side of her and the sperm swim willy-nilly through her blood until they reach the sperm storage organs, where she is fertilised. One species however has evolved to do without all this silly fornication, and put simply it clones itself … a virgin birth as it were. This isn’t the only mating oddity as some species lay eggs, others hatch eggs inside their bodies and some actually have live young. I’d like to see spiderman try that. Actually no … no I wouldn’t … that’s the last thing I’d like to see.

Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 11:30 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] even have a hard shell. The wobbly chap was in fact more closely related to the tardigrades and velvet worms. Perhaps this is what opabinia best represents, the many experimental forms that evolved, only to […]

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