Wild & Weird: A Millipede and Its Shadow

Although “millipede” comes from the Latin words for “a thousand” and “feet,” millipedes don’t actually have a thousand legs. The number varies from well under a hundred legs to several hundred legs, depending on how many body segments the millipede has.

Millipedes are born with only three pairs of legs and grow the rest of their multitudinous limbs.

The fossil record suggests that as some of the first air breathers, millipedes may be the oldest animals to have left the primordial soup of the ocean for the land — where legs can come in handy.

Male millipedes have a few specialized “sex legs” called gonopods. The male uses these specially modified legs to transfer his sperm packet to the female.


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