Thursday, November 30, 2006

Today's Science Lesson

As readers of my blog (Hi Mom) know, I'm a fan of science. Living in South Florida has exposed me to all kinds of new critters over the last year. See example here.

This morning, I found this on my front porch...



Today's lesson is about Millipedes. Enjoy!

Millipedes (Class Diplopoda, previously also known as Chilognatha) are very elongated arthropods with cylindrical bodies that have two pairs of legs for each one of their 20 to 100 or more body segments (except for the first segment behind the head which does not have any appendages at all, and the next few which only have one pair of legs). Each segment that has two pairs of legs is a result of two single segments fused together as one. This class contains around 10,000 species. These animals are detritivores, slow and nonvenomous; unlike the somewhat similar and closely related centipedes (Class Chilopoda), which can be easily distinguished by their single pair of legs for each body segment. Most millipedes eat decaying leaves and other dead plant matter, moisturizing the food with secretions and then scraping it in with the jaws. However they can also be a minor garden pest, especially in greenhouses where they can cause severe damage to emergent seedlings. Signs of millipede damage include the stripping of the outer layers of a young plant stem and irregular damage to leaves and plant apices.

This class of arthropods is thought to be among the first animals to colonize land during the Silurian geologic period. These early forms probably ate mosses and primitive vascular plants.

Indeed, the very oldest known land animal, Pneumodesmus newmani, was a centimeter-long millipede.

4 Comments:

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10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very enlightening. But millipedes still creep me out!

3:58 PM  
Blogger MrsTito said...

This one was almost...cute. They are very slow and not that scary. But, if I found it in my house I would move.

6:17 AM  
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11:07 AM  

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