Monday, December 29, 2008

The Myriapods - Centipedes and Millipedes

The MYRIAPODA are a subphylum of the Arthropoda, consisting of 4 Classes; the CHILOPODA (Centipedes), DIPLOPODA (Millipedes), PAUROPODA and the SYMPHYLA (Garden Centipedes). All are elongated creatures with multiple legs and segmented bodies. Not all classes of Arthropods are grouped together in Subphyla, but these 4 classes are considered closely enough related to warrant it. Let's have a look .

Class CHILOPODA - The Centipedes

Vietnamese Centipede (Scolopendra subspinipes ). Notice that centipedes have 2 legs per body segment, a flattened body, and a pair of long antennae.

Arizona Desert Centipede (Scolopendra heros) showing off the rear legs which may be used as weapons for defense or predation.

Chinese Red Headed Centipede (S. subspinipes mutilans) protecting its eggs.

The venom fangs or venom claws of a Scolopendrid centipede, centipedes are a completely predatory group.

House Centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata), as the name suggests, are often found in human dwellings.

S. gigantea, the largest species of centipede still around.

Class DIPLOPODA - The Millipedes

The African Giant Millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas) which is a species commonly kept as a pet or classroom display animal. Millipedes have rounded bodies and 4 legs per body segment.

Although it looks like a Pillbug (Isopod), this is a Pill Millipede (Glomeris marginata), found in Europe.

One of the Sheild Millipedes from Ecuador, which release an almond like odor when disturbed as a few species of millipede do, to dissuade predators.

A pair of mating millipede in Sarawak, Malaysia

Millipedes are herbivorous, and have plant grinding/cutting mouth parts.


Extremely small, the Pauropods live in soil and leaf litter, where they feed on a variety of plant and fungal material.

A microscope image of Pauropods, which are most closely related to the millipedes.

Pauropods are blind, and have many sensory hairs along the body and complex antennae.

Class SYMPHYLA - Garden Centipedes

Symphylans are tiny translucent myriapods that dwell in the soil and feed on decaying plant matter (Detritivores - animals that eat detritus or rotting/dead plant matter)

The young are born with 6 pairs of legs, but they gain a new pair with every molt of the soft exoskeleton.

Like Pauropods, Symphylans are blind , but have long antennae for finding their way.

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