Velvet Worm - Slime Guns
The velvet worm - among the phylum, Onychophora - hunts by shooting fast drying adhesive at its prey and yes, I know what you’re thinking. The segmented worm-like organism can range from 0.5 to 20cm long and slime glands are located in the center region of the body making up about 11% of the total body weight in slime which is made mostly of water and some proteins.
In order to detect prey it senses slight changes in air currents with bumps on its skin and chemical sensors on its antennae to let them essentially taste something to determine if its food. When a prey item is eventually encountered, the slime is forcefully squirted through oral papillae near the head and launched up to 30cm in a sort of spray-and-pray manner. Once the slime contacts the victim, it quickly dries ensnaring it, where now the worm then seeks to eat the organism by injecting its saliva and digestive enzymes turning the innards into a slurpee. Mmm delicious.
The velvet worm are primarily nocturnal ambush predators and their senses and locomotion allow them to hunt. They move silently and fluidly with pneumatically inflated sets of valves to inflate/deflate their legs, meaning they don’t really rely on muscles for movement and is why it looks so cool as they glide along the ground. Another awesome thing about them is they have a tubular heart that extends almost the entire length of the body creating an open circulatory system.
Here is a diagram of the velvet worm anatomy
So upset I didn’t come across a Peripatus while hiking in NZ.
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