Class Diplopoda/Chilopoda (millipedes & centipedes)
- Both belong to the Phylum Arthropoda.
- They are sometimes grouped together as myriapods.
- Most of their hunting takes place at night.
- Different species of each class are found throughout the world.
- Both have antennae on their heads that act as a sensing device.
- Both walk in a metachronal pattern.
- Both have tracheae and malphigian tubules.
The diplopods and the chilopods are two relatively small
classes belonging to the largest phylum on Earth. Phylum Arthropoda
contains a wide array of animals from spiders to crustaceans to every
other bug, mite, or tick on the planet. Millipedes and centipedes, as
these two classes are more commonly known share a variety of
similarities, as noted above. Extensive research has been done on
these organism's locomotory patterns. For quite some time the
underlying premise for this research was finding answers to a
seemingly simple question. Are these animals efficient movers, or do
they waste tremendous amounts of energy? Some of the latest tests,
done with high-tech cinematography have shown that they are have
indeed adapted a method of locomotion designed to conserve energy
while still maintaining the maximum output from each step. Research
is continuing in hopes of discovering just how many legs these
organisms have on the ground at different speeds. All of this
knowledge is expected to be put to use in the field of robotics, where
scientists have long been fixated on finding the best form of robot
Some interesting Facts:
- There are some centipedes, most notably the North American
Arizona species which have been known to reach lengths of over half a foot.
- Given that these animals possess such a great number of legs,
one would expect that they would have the ability to run away from a
fight. This however is not the case, as most of them curl up into a
tight ball when approached by an intruder.
- The food sources of myriapods vary greatly among the various
species. Some centipedes have been found to be carnivorous with a
relentless hunting ability. Others eat nothing but low lying
vegetation, and there are even some saphrotrophic species in the mix.
Some Pertinent Books Found in Lamson Library:
- Alexander, R. McNeill. 1979. The Invertebrates. Cambridge:
- Carthy, J.D. 1965. The Behavior of Arthropods: University Reviews in
Biology. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company.
- Fourtner, Charles R., Herried, Clyde F.II. 1981. Locomotion and
Energetics in Arthropods. New York: Plenum Press.
(David H. Maheu, Fall 1994; edited by T. Shultz, Spring 1995)