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Peripatus

Peripatus is a genus of the phylum or subphylum Onychophora (velvet worms) found in damp forests in Australia, Africa, Asia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Brazil[1] [2] and some other southern countries.Varying in length from a few millimetres to 22 centimetres. It resembles a skiny caterpillar with many pairs of stumpy legs. Its structure has many similarities to arthropods, as well as many similarities to annelids and many unique features of its own. It shows no external segmentation, but the body is composed of segments, like annelids, with segmentally arranged nephridia. The legs are not jointed like arthropod legs, but have arthropod-like claws and have antennae on the head. The outer covering is a cuticle, covered in unique microscopic projections called papillae. These papillae and fine bristles give a velvet texture. Some species have striking colours and textures. Peripatus respires through tracheae like arthropods. Antennae are present on the head. The short legs are tipped with spiny pads and a hooked claw. Their distinctive legs earned them the name peripatus, from the same root as the word peripatetic – to walk or wander about. The number of legs varies depending on the species. Excretion is through nephridia, which are found in each of the legs.

It is a nocturnal carnivore and feeds by trapping small insects and other prey in a white, sticky, slimy fluid it ejects from two antennae near its head. The fluid hardens on contact with the air to immoblize the prey. Peripatus chews a hole in its prey's exoskeleton with its mandibles, which move independently of each other, injects digestive enzymes and begins sucking out its prey's pre-digested innards.

Peripatus gives birth to live young.

It is said to be a living fossil as it has been unchanged for approximately 570 million years.

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