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Annu Rev Entomol. 2007;52:401-20.

Current status of the Myriapod class diplopoda (millipedes): taxonomic diversity and phylogeny.

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  • 1Zoology, Insects, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois 60605, USA.


The arthropod class Diplopoda, the millipedes, ranks among the most diverse groups of terrestrial organisms, with over 12,000 species described. Although they play an important ecological role in most terrestrial ecosystems, little is known about the group's diversity, morphology, and phylogeny compared with other arthropod groups. We review diplopod natural history and discuss the historical and current literature pertaining to millipede morphology, ecology, chemical defenses, and the paleontological record of the group's ancient history. Diplopod systematics, past and present, are reviewed with a focus on taxonomy, collections, and biogeography. The phylogenetics of the class is reviewed, with particular attention on diplopod placement within the Myriapoda and emphasis on recent advances using molecular approaches to phylogenetic reconstruction. We present (a) the first combined morphological and molecular analysis of the millipede orders, and (b) a list of critically evaluated characteristics of nominal clades identifying putative apomorphies.

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