| Eoperipatus totoro |
Oliveira, Schaffer, Kvartalnov, Galoyan, Palko, Weck-Heimann, Geissler, Ruhbergh & Mayer 2013
the first velvet worm to be described from Vietnam. Velvet worms spit glue from two glands to entangle their prey
Although representatives of Peripatidae are widely distributed in South-East Asia, only three valid species of Eoperipatus and one species of Typhloperipatus have been described from this region. According to previous reports, the three species of Eoperipatus show little morphological variation and are difficult to distinguish from each other. In this study, we describe a new species of Eoperipatus from Vietnam, E. totoro sp. nov., using morphological (light and scanning electron microscopy) and molecular data (mitochondrial COI and 12S rRNA sequences). A comparison with specimens of an undescribed species of Eoperipatus from Thailand revealed novel species-specific characters, including the characteristics of male crural complexes, distinct types of scales on the ventral body surface, the inner structure of the circular pits on the male genital pad, and the position and size of the anal gland pads in males. The results of our molecular analyses correspond with those of morphological studies. In contrast to previous assumptions, our findings suggest a high diversity of the South-East Asian Peripatidae, which requires further exploration.
Keywords: Velvet worms; Morphological diversity; Distribution; Scanning electron microscopy; Taxonomy; Molecular phylogeny
Etymology: Following the request of Pavel V. Kvartalnov, Eduard A. Galoyan and Igor V. Palko, the species is named after the main character of the cartoon movie “My Neighbour Totoro” by Hayao Miyazaki (1988, studio Ghibli), who uses a many-legged animal as a vehicle, which according to the collectors resembles a velvet worm.
I. S. Oliveira, S. Schaffer, P. V. Kvartalnov, E. A. Galoyan, I. V. Palko, A. Weck-Heimann, P. Geissler, H. Ruhberg, G. Mayer. 2013. A New Species of Eoperipatus (Onychophora) from Vietnam reveals novel morphological characters for the South-East Asian Peripatidae. Zoologischer Anzeiger - A Journal of Comparative Zoology. 252:495–510.
Douglas Main. 2013. New Glue-Spitting Velvet Worm Found in Vietnam.