Definition of Onychophora in English:


plural noun

  • A small phylum of terrestrial invertebrates which comprises the velvet worms such as peripatus. They share characteristics with the arthropods and annelids, having a long, soft segmented body with stubby legs (lobopods).

    • ‘Conversely it has been suggested note that the Onychophora are actually modified arthropods, rather than the other way around.’
    • ‘Tardigrades, close relatives of Onychophora and Arthropoda, possess ornamented armored exoskeletons in high predation marine environments.’
    • ‘However, on both morphological and molecular grounds it seems that two groups that are sometimes given phylum rank, the Onychophora and the Tardigrada, are the closest living relatives of the arthropods.’
    • ‘Other ecdysozoan phyla include Nematoda, Tardigrada, and Onychophora; this classification thus removes onychophorans from the Arthropoda and makes them an outgroup.’
    • ‘For example, the Onychophora possess 20 or so pairs of identical walking legs.’


Modern Latin (plural), from Greek onux, onukh- ‘nail, claw’ + -phoros ‘bearing’.