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Euperipatoides rowelli
Euperipatoides rowelli 2.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom:
Phylum:
Class:
Udeonychophora
Order:
Euonychophora
Family:
Peripatopsidae
Genus:
Euperipatoides
Species:
E. rowelli
Binomial name
Euperipatoides rowelli
Reid, 1996

Euperipatoides rowelli is an ovoviviparous species of velvet worm of the Peripatopsidae family. It is found in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Description

As all species in the genus Euperipatoides, E. rowelli has a dark grayish-blue color. Adult specimens measure about 3 to 5 cm in length, with females being larger than males. This species is characterized by two distinct rows of bristles on the antennal rings 4, 6, 9 and 12, while the remaining species of the genus have two distinct rows only on the two or four distal antennal rings.

Ecology and Behavior

Euperipatoides rowelli occurs in humid, temperate forests of southeastern Australia. Its main habitat are decaying logs on the forest floor, where it lives in crevices and feeds on small invertebrates, such as termites and crickets.

Specimens are rarely found alone, usually forming groups of a few individuals containing females, males, and juveniles. Laboratory observations on behavior concluded that these groups present some sort of hierarchy with dominant females.

New logs are usually colonized by wandering males. The pheromones emitted by the first male to reach a log attract additional males, as well as females. It is assumed that males are attracted by other males because their high density increases the attraction of females.

Model organism

Due to its abundance in its native habitat, E. rowelli is becoming a model organism in the study of behavior and ecology, and especially of gene expression and evolution, leading to a better understanding on the evolution of animals and especially arthropods, to which velvet worms are closely related.

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