Close-up of the world’s largest millipede with 400 legs

The African millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas) is considered the largest millipede in the world. Adult African millipedes have a body size of up to 30cm.

This species of millipedes has up to 300-400 legs located along the body, each segment of the body has 4 legs.

The African millipede breathes through tiny respiratory holes along the body, not through the lungs like we do. These openings open to a cavity in the body that connects to the tracheal system.

The eyesight of the millipedes is not good, so they communicate with each other by touch. They use their legs and body to sense their surroundings and find their way.

The heart of the millipede runs the length of the body with an aorta running to the head.

The food of the mat is twigs and leaves that rot on the ground, turning dead plants into new soil. They are like a decomposition machine, so they play a very important role in the grassland ecosystem.

Depending on the species, each litter lays about 10-300 eggs. The eggs of the millipedes are fertilized as soon as they are laid with sperm stored in the vulva. After a few weeks, the egg rolls will hatch. The young millipede usually has only 3 pairs of legs, followed by 4 legless segments. After each molt, the number of segments and legs of the mat will increase gradually.

The millipedes are the arthropods of the class Diplopoda, the subphylum Polymorph, the most diverse group of arthropods on Earth and one of the earliest terrestrial species.

The name “roll mat” in Vietnamese for this group of creatures comes from their habit of curling their bodies, like when people roll a mat.


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