The class Diplopoda, commonly known as millipedes belong to the subphylum Myriapoda which also includes centipedes. The term 'milli' is latin for thousand and 'pede' for foot. Whoever coined the term 'millipede' was mistaken as the record for the greatest number of legs is held by Illacme plenipes, which has 375 pairs.

Millipedes are relatively common worldwide; so far over 10,000 species have been named. However this figure is estimated to only represent one-sixth of all millipede species. Most millipedes live in the top layer of the soil and play an important role in break down of organic matter.

Some millipedes can give off poisonous cyanide as a defensive mechanism.

Author: Jacalyn Riding
Last updated: 20/11/05
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