Onychophora: Life History and Ecology

The delicate-looking velvet worms are carnivorous. Typically, their habit is to make excursions from the tropical forest litter or the tunnels of termites during the night or periods of rain. While out and about an onychophoran hunts isopods, termites and small molluscs. An onychophoran relies upon specialized adhesive glands that secrete a sticky white liquid that entangles its quarry. This icky sticky goo is also used as a defense against those who regard the onychophoran as prey.

Onychoporans have separate sexes and fertilization occurs both internally and externally depending on species. Onychophorans usually exhibit sexual dimorphism. That is, males and females are not the same size. As is most often the case in animals that are sexually dimorphic, the female is larger than the male. This may seem counter-intuitive because most sexually dimorphic mammals (including ourselves) have a larger male than female. This is a good example of how a lack of familiarity with the little things in life can skew one's perception of the natural world.