The fossil record of the Myriapoda is rather patchy. While certain formations may be fairly rich in specimens, intervening periods tend to be rather poor. The Diplopoda (millipedes), to which all the Silurian and most of the Devonian records have been assigned, are the best represented in the fossil record. This is probably due more to their robust calcified exoskeleton, as well as their burrowing habits, rather than reflecting greater age or past diversity. The records seem to support the idea that independent groups of vertebrates invaded the land sequentially, starting with the herbivores which followed the earliest terrestrial plants (Rolfe, 1980).
|Frasnian||Escuminac fm., Canada: ?Arthropleura|
|Givetian||Gilboa Fauna, U.S.A.: centipedes|
|Emsian||Alken fauna, Germany: Eoarthropleura|
Rhynie Chert fauna, Scotland: no Myriapoda
Kampecaris tuberculata, Ayrshire
Arbuthnott Gp, Angus: K. forfarensis, A. macnicoli
Kampecaris dinmorensis, Herefordshire
Oban fauna: K. forfarensis, ?K. obanensis, 'Archidesmus' sp.
Kampecaris obanensis, Kerrara; undescribed kampecarids, Shropshire
Stonehaven Gp, Kincardineshire: prob. diplopod, 'Kampecaris?' and others
|Wenlock||Undescribed 'Myriapods', Lesmahagow, Hagshire Hills|
|Llandovery||Archidesmus loganensis, Leshmahagow|
Myriapod fossils are often poorly preserved and hard to interpret. For example, identification is hampered by a lack of fossilized gonopods, which may be because the fossil forms had a primitive form of sperm transfer, or the fossils are immature animals. A similar problem is encountered when trying to establish whether differences in numbers of legs and segments are true differences.
The Chilopoda (centipedes) have a sporadic fossil record from the Middle Devonian onwards (Shear et al, 1984), the Symphyla are known solely from Eocene Baltic amber (Larrson, 1978) and the Pauropoda are not represented at all. The latter two are minute forms that live in the soil and have very low chances of preservation.