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Velvet worm species 

Note: All Tasmanian velvet worms are endemic to Tasmania.

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'Ooperipatellus cryptus' Jackson and Taylor, 1994 (1995)

Ooperipatellus cryptus

Very hard to find. Adults are rarely more than 12 mm long, and when disturbed a juvenile may rapidly curl into a tight spiral which rolls away out of sight. Only abundant in a few places, e.g. the southern portion of the Christmas Hills west of Smithton, and the Dial Range area south of Penguin. Lives in wet, shady forest, shelters in leaf litter as well as in rotting logs. Tolerates clearfelling, burning and regeneration of native forest, and occurs in Pinus radiata and eucalypt plantations. State-listed as 'Rare' from 1995, de-listed in 2008. Taxonomically, the name Ooperipatellus cryptus is a nomen dubium: the scientific rules for naming and describing new species were not followed in this case, and a redescription is needed (Oliveira et al. 2012).

Bonham et al. (2002), Bryant and Jackson (1999), Jackson and Taylor (1995 ['1994']), Mesibov (1991b, 1993c, 1998d), Oliveira et al. (2012), Ruhberg and Mesibov (1996), Tait and Briscoe (1987, as 'taxon D'; 1990) 

Tasmania mapOoperipatellus cryptus


Ooperipatellus decoratus (Baehr, 1977)

Ooperipatellus sp.

About 20 mm long; colour pattern very variable, even within a population at a single site. Often found sheltering in small groups under woody litter. 'Plays dead' when disturbed. Has been seen to 'swarm' at night in tea-tree forest near The Fingerpost on the Murchison Highway, with numerous individuals slowly climbing tree trunks in search of prey. Abundant in some eucalypt plantations.

Baehr (1977), Brockmann (1994), Brockmann et al. (1999, 2001), Mesibov (1993b), Ruhberg and Mesibov (1996) 

Undescribed egg-laying species

Ooperipatellus sp.

About 20 species; named and described by Claudia Brockmann in her PhD thesis, but not yet published. Found throughout mainland Tasmania, but not yet found on King Island.

Eberhard et al. (1991), Flynn (1918), Hickman (1963), Rowell et al. (2002), Savage River Caving Club (1996), Smith and Gilfedder (1993), Spencer (1895), Tait and Briscoe (1987) 

Tasmania mapOoperipatellus sp.

Note: until Brockmann's taxonomic work is published, please refer to O. decoratus and undescribed egg-laying species as 'Ooperipatellus sp.'



Tasmanipatus anophthalmus Ruhberg et al., 1991
'Blind Velvet Worm'

Tasmanipatus anophthalmus

Shelters deep within rotting logs and soil but has also been found in piles of dolerite rocks in the St Marys area; not yet found in caves. Mature females can reach 50 mm in length when fully extended. Like other live-bearing Tasmanian velvet worms, T. anophthalmus will extend itself and attempt to escape when disturbed. With a range of only about 150 km2, T. anophthalmus is State-listed, Commonwealth-listed and IUCN-listed as 'Endangered'. Please do not collect or disturb this species. The core distribution is on Mt Elephant and in the coastal creek catchments just to the south, with peripheral populations extending west along the Nicholas Range and south to the Denison Rivulet. Populations in the settled parts of the range are at risk from forest clearing and too-frequent and too-hot burning. Another control on T. anophthalmus distribution is its still-unexplained parapatry with Tasmanipatus barretti. The two species ranges meet, with almost no overlap, along a line from just north of Chain of Lagoons, to St Marys Pass, to the Mt Nicholas area.

Bryant and Jackson (1999), Eberhard and Eberhard (1989), Horner (1995), Luttrell (1988), Mesibov (1987, 1988, 1990, 1997a), Mesibov and Ruhberg (1991), Mesibov et al. (2002), Reid (1996), Ruhberg and Mesibov (1996), Ruhberg et al. (1991, 2001), Tait and Briscoe (1987, 1989), Tait et al. (1990), Taylor (1990) 

Tasmania mapBVW


Tasmanipatus barretti Ruhberg et al., 1991
'Giant Velvet Worm'

Tasmanipatus barretti

Tasmania's largest velvet worm; mature females can be 75 mm long when fully extended. Very young T. barretti are pale and can be confused with the all-white Tasmanipatus anophthalmus. Use a strong hand-lens or low-power microscope to check for a dark-coloured eye at the base of the antenna; the eye is missing in T. anophthalmus. Only rarely found outside rotting logs; extends itself and attempts to escape when disturbed. State-listed as 'Rare' with a range of ca. 600 km2, but fairly common in the dry, open forests of the Avenue and Scamander River catchments. Tolerates selective logging and careful fuel-reduction burning; eliminated by plantation establishment. Parapatric with T. anophthalmus (see above). A specimen of T. barretti from St Marys was photographed more than 70 years ago (Barrett 1938), but the first museum specimens were collected in 1984.

Barrett (1938), Borrer Closs (2005), Bryant and Jackson (1999), Fox et al. (2004), Horner (1995, 1998), Mesibov (1987, 1988, 1990, 1991a, 1995a, 2001b), Mesibov and Ruhberg (1991), Mesibov et al. (2002), Reid (1996), Ruhberg and Mesibov (1996), Ruhberg et al. (1991, 2001), Tait and Briscoe (1987), Tait et al. (1990), Taylor (1990), Yee et al. (2007) 

Tasmania mapGVW


Undescribed live-bearing species

ovoviviparous SW

This is a group of uncommon species in an undescribed genus. Reid (1996) gives brief notes on two forms she calls 'Tasmania' sp. 1 and 'Tasmania' sp. 2. Adults are 25-30 mm long at rest, are usually found in rotting logs and can be locally abundant in rainforest. When disturbed, these species extend themselves and attempt to escape. The first known specimen from this group was collected at Kelly Basin, Port Davey by C.D. 'Deny' King in 1940 (TMAG J899)

Fletcher (1890), Malcolm (1987), Reid (1996), Ruhberg (1985), Ruhberg and Mesibov (1996), Smith and Gilfedder (1993), Rowell et al. (1995), Sunnucks and Tait (2001), Tait and Briscoe (1987, 1990), Tait et al. (1990, 1995), Winsor (1983)

Tasmania mapovoviviparous SW