12 Apr 2011

Council delays highway expansion over ancient worm

6:48 pm on 12 April 2011

The Dunedin City Council is concerned roadworks could endanger a 500-million-year-old species described as the missing link between worms and insects.

The Peripatus, or velvet worm, lives beside a section of State Highway 1 in the suburb of Caversham that is set to be widened.

Peripatus has 15 sets of legs, traps its prey by shooting a glue-like substance and gives birth to live young. And it's only 3cm long.

Environmental lobby group Forest and Bird says it is a living fossil that can't be moved to another habitat.

The city council has asked the Transport Agency to report on the impact of the roadworks on the species before applying for resource consent.

The agency hopes to begin widening the highway in June 2012.