I could be worse

I know many of my readers shudder in dread whenever I mention “sp*d*rs”, but just imagine if Arthropleura hadn’t died off a few hundred million years ago — I’d be growing them in my lab right now and posting photos of my cuties for you to see. This is in the news now because they just found a third fossil.

Sadly, not only have only a few of these humongous millipedes been found, but they’re all fragmentary. All we have are chunks — chunks that are several feet long — of the beast. Nobody has yet found a fossilized Arthropleura head. Just imagine all the eyes, and the nasty great mandibles, and the hungry expression on their face, if you can figure out the various bits of what passes for a face in a giant millipede. I’d show you, if I had a picture!

As long as your imagination is cranking away, here’s a visual aid.

I think his cousin is living in my bathroom shower right now.


  1. davidc1 says

    “While we can’t know for sure what they ate”.
    I would hazard a guess at anything the fecker wanted.

  2. Dennis K says

    Per wikipedia for the genus, “Because none of the known fossils have the mouth preserved, scientists have concluded that Arthropleura did not have the strongly sclerotized and powerful mouth parts that a predator would require, because these would have been preserved in at least some of the fossils. Instead, some fossils have been found with plant materials – lycopod fragments and pteridophyte spores – in the gut and in associated coprolites.”

    From bugs to dinos to whales, the giants seem most often to be vegan.

  3. Dennis K says

    @4 – You’re right, or course. Failed joke. Blue whales eat krill — just cuz it’s tiny, Dennis, doesn’t mean it’s a plant!

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Was it perhaps a detritivore?
    Also, if you want to re-create one specimen you need a tent with 30% oxygen atmosphere if you want it to grow to full size.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    If you have a desert millipede that eats spice maybe it would grow to the size of a blue whale?

  6. Walter Solomon says

    Though not this big, there are still huge millipedes about. I’ve seen them being eaten by meerkats on nature documentaries.

    You should get some for your lab and other creepy-crawlies. You can start staging arthropod fighting matches and posting them on YouTube

  7. vereverum says

    “You can start staging arthropod fighting matches and posting them on YouTube”

    Just be sure that your number and corporate logos are of non-toxic material.

  8. wzrd1 says

    @birgerjohansson, they can then be tended by folks on a smoking cessation program.
    At 25% O2, a cigarette on the sly looks like a fast burning sparkler, at 30%, I’m sure it’d be quite rousing and generate avoidance behavior… ;)

    For the record, I am a smoker, but I conscientiously avoid the damned things in any oxygen enriched environment for just that reason. I also performed the demo on the risks of fire in an enriched oxygen environment, with great paranoia.
    Largely, because oxygen is out to get whatever it can find and share an electron with. I have to draw limits on some types of sharing.

  9. Owlmirror says

    In other millipede news, a millipede that actually has 1000+ legs has been found.
    Guardian article.

    The first true millipede—1306 legs long (Open Access)

    It has 330 segments. That’s pretty long, I mean loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong, I mean really, really, really