Monday, August 19, 2019

Millipede or Centipede?

First, let's look at the difference between a Millipede and a Centipede.

Both of these are under the same subphyllum Myriapoda, thus sharing a lot of similarities like a long segmented bodies with lots of legs. There are some general characteristics you can find to tell them apart.

Millipede Centipede
Have 2 pairs of legs per segment  Have 1 pair of legs per segment 
Slow moving Fast moving
(Feeds on decomposing matters)
(Hunts other animals)
More defensive, rolls up or foul tasting  More aggressive, attacks with a venomous bite 
Body usually more cylindrical Body usually more flatten
Shorter segments and legs Longer segments and legs

However, several of these are common characteristics but not 100% accurate to distinguish them. Some millipedes may look flattish and have longer legs which makes them look more like a centipede.

The myriapod in the photo above is another interesting example. It is in fact a centipede despite its slow movement and defensive rolling up behaviour similar to a millipede. I call it the Millipede Centipede for its mimicry towards millipedes.

Scientifically known as Edentistoma sp.  These genus of centipedes are really rare and not much are known about them due to the very few observation of them in the wild. To most forest trekkers, this would be easily ignored as it looks like a normal uninteresting millipede. It is not surprising that they hunt millipedes as well.

I was lucky to find one night on the forest floor in a mixed dipterocarp rainforest in Sabah, Borneo. So far this could be the first recorded on in the state of Sabah (Northern Borneo). The evolution of mimicry is truly wonderful. Hope to find these centipedes soon again.

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