Velvet Worm Life Cycle

Velvet worms are intriguing – bizarre even – in many ways.  Onycophorans are surprisingly skillful hunters. They are the only invertebrates that can shoot slime as a weapon. Their skin is velvety and waterproof, and despite being called “worms,” they move more like millipedes on their chubby legs with tiny claws. Some species are social … Read more

Are Velvet Worms Rare?

Velvet Worms are curious and evasive invertebrate critters. Scientifically speaking, they belong to a unique phylum called Onychophora, consisting only of velvet worm species. Despite their name and looks, Velvet Worms are neither worms, insects, centipedes, or slugs. They’re not even arthropods – although the two groups are related. Their closest of kin seem to … Read more

Are Velvet Worms Dangerous?

Velvet worms have a gentle name and disposition – moving tenderly on their chubby legs and carefully examining the world with their rounded, smooth antennae. Yep, Onychophorans seem like toy-like creatures – until you see them in action. Are Velvet Worms Dangerous? Although their common name is related to their soft texture, the Latin name … Read more

What Eats Velvet Worms?

As cruel as it sounds, the saying “eat or be eaten” is established in the animal world. However, eating doesn’t precisely prevent you from being eaten – most of the world’s predators, no matter how powerful or skillful, can end up becoming prey themselves.  The same is true for velvet worms – all 230 known … Read more

How Does the Velvet Worm Catch Its Prey

Velvet worms are tropical invertebrates that look like a mix of a caterpillar, a centipede, and a slug – although they are not directly related to any of these creatures. Besides their strange origins and looks, the way Velvet Worms catch their prey is also stunning – and one of their most attractive traits. In … Read more

Squid Anatomy

Squid are cephalopods, and as such, they possess the same anatomical base as other cephalopods, including a syphon, a beak, and a pair of large digestive glands.  Beyond this, they are also Coleoids, which means they share characteristics with Octopuses and particularly with Cuttlefish that they do not share with their more distant cousins the … Read more

Octopuses: Geniuses of the Invertebrate World

Octopuses are, hmmm well how can I put this? Octopuses are amazing, incredible, magnificent, wonderful, fascinating, in many ways unique and mind-blowingly intelligent.  They are also cephalopods, and within that coleoid cephalopods. Cephalopod Genetics – Californian two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides) – first to have genome sequenced – expanded genes for neurone development. The only truly … Read more

Jellyfish survive (& thrive) without a brain or heart – here’s how!

Jellyfish No Brain

Jellyfish. An ancient, sea dwelling, ‘stinging machine’ located in the majority of the worlds waters, in infinite numbers, have no brain or heart to keep them alive…true or false? TRUE! Jellyfish have no brains but don’t worry, we’ll explain all about their unbelievable nervous systems and anatomy later. Let’s start with understanding what they are … Read more

Squid: The Ocean’s Fast and Furious

Sepioteuthis sepioidea Caribbean Reef Squid

Squid are fast, diverse, colourful, dynamic, intelligent and delicious. According to the Catalogue of life there 298 species of squid, divided between three the orders known to science.  Squid are far more numerous in our oceans than their other cephalopod cousins. Some squid are so common they support immense fisheries, half a million tonnes of … Read more

Vampire Squid: The Surprising Facts

Artist's Image of a Vampire Squid, adapted from Chun 2003

Vampire Squid, there is only one species, are Coleoid Cephalopods currently classified as being the sole member of the family Vampyroteuthidae and the order Vampyromorphida. They are, like all cephalopods, marine invertebrates.  They are also unique, fascinating and still rather little studied. Two things they are not, in any way, are 1) squids and 2) … Read more