Skip to main content


Peripatus (velvet worms; phylum Onychophora) A genus of onychophorans that are 1.4–15 cm long, with a dry, soft, flexible, very permeable skin that is moulted, overlying a single layer of epidermis, a thin dermis, and three layers of muscle fibres. Its complete lack of hard parts allows Peripatus to squeeze into very confined spaces. The coelom is greatly reduced and the body cavity is a haemocoel. Each of the 14–44 segments of the trunk bears a pair of nephridia and a pair of legs, each leg having an eversible vesicle opening close to the nephridiopore and probably used to take up water. The loss of water from the body cannot be controlled and dry ground presents an insuperable barrier. Locomotion is slow and occurs by the extension of the segments in a peristaltic wave, each extension raising the legs from the surface and thrusting them forward. A pair of antennae, anterior to the mouth, tap the ground as the animal moves. There is an oral papilla on either side of the mouth at the end of which opens a gland secreting an adhesive substance used in obtaining food and in defence. The adhesive can be discharged as a stream, for up to about 50 cm, and hardens on contact with air, entrapping the prey or intruder in a tangle of sticky fibres. Most species are predatory on smaller invertebrates. All are nocturnal. Peripatus occurs in moist places in the tropics and the temperate regions of the southern hemisphere.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Peripatus." A Dictionary of Zoology. . 21 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Peripatus." A Dictionary of Zoology. . (March 21, 2019).

"Peripatus." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved March 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.