Tasmanipatus barretti (giant velvet worm)

Tasmanipatus barretti the giant velvet worm is a rare species found only in north-eastern Tasmania. 

The giant velvet worm is classified as vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN and  because of the small size of the range where it lives.

Tasmanipatus barretti lives in rotting eucalyptus logs within dry and wet sclerophyll forests. The quantity and quality of the rotting log habitat of the giant velvet worm is threatened by forestry activity within its range. Interest in the species has led to policy-informing research being carried out into the best management practices to maintain sufficient habitat for the continued success of the species.

Species detail

Tasmanipatus barretti  It has pink-purple velvety-skin, 15 pairs of legs and extends up to 75mm when walking.

Tasmanipatus barretti belongs to the phylum Onychophora, the various species of which are commonly known as velvet worms. Archer (1994) describes Onychophra as a ‘non-missing, missing link’ between annelids and arthropods, as they are regarded as an important link between these two major phyla and present common features of both.

Onychophora are also regarded as ‘living fossils’, as they are an ancient taxon which has changed very little over the past several million years.

  • Tasmanipatus anophthalmus the blind velvet worm.
    Taxonomy

    Find out about the genus Tasmanipatus, the form and structure of the species within it and the evolution of Tasmanipatus barretti.

  • Map of Tasmania
    Distribution and habitat

    Find out the area of Tasmania in which the giant velvet worm can be found, the types of habitat it enjoys and what it typically feeds on.

  • Tasmanipatus barretti
    Biology

    Giant velvet worm are almost twice as long when walking as they are when resting. Find out more about this biology of this species.

  • Tasmanian forest
    Behaviour

    Learn why the giant velvet worm occasionally leaves the shelter and safety of its rotting log habitat and the associations it has with other species that aid its survival.

  • Tasmania
    Conservation

    Discover the conservation status of the giant velvet worm and the legislation in place to aid its survival. Learn about the threats faced by this species.

  • Tasmanipatus barretti
    References

    Get reference material for Tasmanipatus barretti.

Images

Tasmanipatus barretti

A giant velvet worm within a rotten log. © Robert Mesibov

Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmanipatus anophthalmus

Tasmanipatus anophthalmus the blind velvet worm the other member of the new genus Tasmanipatus.

© Robert Mesibov
Tasmanipatus barretti 

A Tasmanian forest, where Tasmanipatus barretti lives in rotting eucalyptus logs in dry and wet sclerophyll forests.

About the author

Laura Borrer Closs
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Digitising Technician, Collections team, Department of Botany.

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