, The differences between millipedes and centipedes are a common question from the general public.  In biology, some authors have advocated millipedes as model organisms for the study of arthropod physiology and the developmental processes controlling the number and shape of body segments. The most unique physical characteristic of millipedes is of course the incredible number of legs they have. They have a very poor eyesight and some species are completely blind. The name Millipede derives from Latin roots, ‘milli’ meaning ‘thousand’ and ‘ped’ meaning foot.  Each opens into an internal pouch, and connects to a system of tracheae.  The only recorded usage of millipedes as food by humans comes from the Bobo people of Burkina Faso in West Africa, who consume boiled, dried millipedes belonging to the families Gomphodesmidae and Spirostreptidae in tomato sauce. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services. Most millipedes have very elongated cylindrical or flattened bodies with more than 20 segments, while pill millipedes are shorter and can roll into a ball. The terms "segment" or "body ring" are often used interchangeably to refer to both haplo- and diplosegments. Many species deposit the eggs on moist soil or organic detritus, but some construct nests lined with dried faeces, and may protect the eggs within silk cocoons. Weird & Wacky, Copyright © 2020 HowStuffWorks, a division of InfoSpace Holdings, LLC, a System1 Company. The word centipede refers to a 100-footed creature, but the thing is not all centipedes are 100-footed. more than 80. what does the word millipede mean? Recent cladistic and molecular studies have challenged the traditional classification schemes above, and in particular the position of the orders Siphoniulida and Polyzoniida is not yet well established. These factors have favoured genetic isolation and rapid speciation, producing many lineages with restricted ranges.  After each name is listed the author citation: the name of the person who coined the name or defined the group, even if not at the current rank. , Body styles vary greatly between major millipede groups. This short video provides an up-close visual example of the millipede’s smooth, rhythmic movement.  Few species of millipede are at all widespread; they have very poor dispersal abilities, depending as they do on terrestrial locomotion and humid habitats.  Some of these defensive compounds also show antifungal activity. Some species may have up to a 130 pairs and that means they have no less than 260 legs! The millipede is the everyday name of different species of arthropods, united in a scientific way into a supramaxel of millipedes. The millipede record holder for most legs has only 750, and most have far fewer. However, despite their name, these creatures do not have thousands of legs. The longest extant species is the giant African millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas). These have smaller segments at the front and increasingly large ones further back; they propel themselves forward into a crack with their legs, the wedge-shaped body widening the gap as they go. The plates are typically hard, being impregnated with calcium salts.  Eye exposures to these secretions causes general irritation and potentially more severe effects such as conjunctivitis and keratitis.  The most conspicuous leg modifications are involved in reproduction, discussed below.  Some species can survive freshwater floods and live submerged underwater for up to 11 months. Members of the orders Julida, Spirobolida and Spirostreptida, lower their heads and barge their way into the substrate, the collum being the portion of their exoskeleton that leads the way. The legs of centipedes get extended away from their body. Millipedes do not bite, and their defensive secretions are mostly harmless to humans â usually causing only minor discolouration on the skin â but the secretions of some tropical species may cause pain, itching, local erythema, edema, blisters, eczema, and occasionally cracked skin. , Females lay from ten to three hundred eggs at a time, depending on species, fertilising them with the stored sperm as they do so. They use three main methods of burrowing; bulldozing, wedging and boring.  This is called millipede burn. They either have more or less than 100 legs, while some even have as little as 15 legs.  Parasites of millipedes include nematodes, phaeomyiid flies, and acanthocephalans. Some members of prehistoric groups grew to over 2 m (6 ft 7 in); the largest modern species reach maximum lengths of 27 to 38 cm (11 to 15 in). There is one rare species, though, that has a mahoosive 750 legs! The Number of a Centipede's Legs Can Change Throughout Its Life. , The genital openings (gonopores) of both sexes are located on the underside of the third body segment (near the second pair of legs) and may be accompanied in the male by one or two penes which deposit the sperm packets onto the gonopods. In the basal subclass Penicillata, consisting of the tiny bristle millipedes, the exoskeleton is soft and uncalcified, and is covered in prominent setae or bristles. , Millipede eyes consist of several simple flat-lensed ocelli arranged in a group or patch on each side of the head. Millipedes do have a lot of legs, but they never reach a thousand as the name might suggest. All centipede species have one pair of legs per body segment, while millipedes have two pairs of legs. Many species of millipedes have a symbiotic relationship with mites who live on their exoskeleton and mirror their legs.  The cyphopod morphology can also be used to identify species. , Many millipede species have commensal relationships with mites of the orders Mesostigmata and Astigmata. Some past millipedes were the largest ever terrestrial invertebrates; some Arthropleura sp. Furthermore, some species alternate between reproductive and non-reproductive stages after maturity, a phenomenon known as periodomorphosis, in which the reproductive structures regress during non-reproductive stages. After all the word “millipede” literally means 1000 feet. The leaf litter is fragmented in the millipede gut and excreted as pellets of leaf fragments, algae, fungi, and bacteria, which facilitates decomposition by the microorganisms. All other millipedes belong to the subclass Chilognatha consisting of two infraclasses: Pentazonia, containing the short-bodied pill millipedes, and Helminthomorpha (worm-like millipedes), containing the great majority of the species.. , Millipedes appear in folklore and traditional medicine around the world. They often play important roles in the breakdown and decomposition of plant litter: estimates of consumption rates for individual species range from 1 to 11 percent of all leaf litter, depending on species and region, and collectively millipedes may consume nearly all the leaf litter in a region. , Some of the larger millipedes in the orders Spirobolida, Spirostreptida, and Sphaerotheriida are popular as pets. Some eat fungi or suck plant fluids, and a small minority are predatory. Millipede literally means "thousand feet," but they only have between 80 and 400 legs. Most centipedes are swift predators that typically eat smaller arthropods. , The bristly millipedes (order Polyxenida) lack both an armoured exoskeleton and odiferous glands, and instead are covered in numerous bristles that in at least one species, Polyxenus fasciculatus, detach and entangle ants. This may be because they are too small to have enough leverage to burrow, or because they are too large to make the effort worthwhile, or in some cases because they move relatively fast (for a millipede) and are active predators. Millipedes are a diverse group of animals and are not well studied in Australia and of the 15 orders of millipedes in the world only 9 have been recorded in Australia. Most millipedes have very elongated cylindrical or flattened bodies with more than 20 segments, while pill millipedes are shorter and can roll into a ball. hundred feet. Other species exhibit periodical swarming behaviour, which can result in home invasions, crop damage, and train delays when the tracks become slippery with the crushed remains of hundreds of millipedes.  This was a period when the science of diplopodology flourished: rates of species descriptions were on average the highest in history, sometimes exceeding 300 per year. Most have about 40 to 400 legs.  The head contains a single pair of antennae with seven or eight segments and a group of sensory cones at the tip. The digestive tract is a simple tube with two pairs of salivary glands to help digest the food. How Many Pairs of Legs Does a Centipede Have? Back in the coniferous period, about 300 million years ago, a millipede species known as Arthropleura grew to an enormous 6.6 feet (2 meters) long and 1.6 feet (0.5 meter) wide. How many pairs of legs on a centipede are attached to each segment? thousand feet. Millipedes do not have a thousand legs. Wonderfully Amusing Facts About Millipedes. From 1890 to 1940, millipede taxonomy was driven by relatively few researchers at any given time, with major contributions by Carl Attems, Karl Wilhelm Verhoeff and Ralph Vary Chamberlin, who each described over 1,000 species, as well as Orator F. Cook, Filippo Silvestri, R. I. Pocock, and Henry W. Newborn millipedes have only a handful of segments and the animals add a … Estimates of the true number of species on earth range from 15,000 to as high as 80,000. No species of millipede has more than 750 legs ; Centipedes and millipedes are not the same, the leg structure is different and their physical features are different from one another.  A few species occur near the seashore and can survive in somewhat salty conditions. 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