velvet worm


: any of a phylum (Onychophora) of terrestrial, wormlike invertebrates that are found in damp, dark habitats of the southern hemisphere and have dry, velvety skin and numerous pairs of short, thick legs

Note: Velvet worms are noted for having morphological characteristics that resemble those of both arthropods and annelids.

Peripatus resemble downy caterpillars—hence their other name, the velvet worm—and live solely in moist places like rotten logs and leaf litter.Matthew Cawood, Australian Geographic, April/June 1997
Members of the phylum Onychophora or velvet worms have incited debate for years regarding their position in the animal kingdom.George Poinar, Jr., Science, 6 Sept. 1996

Word History

First Known Use

1987, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of velvet worm was in 1987

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Cite this Entry

“Velvet worm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

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