Giant Millipede (Family: Arthropleuridae, Genus: Arthropleura) - Wiki
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[Photo] A model of giant millipede Arthropleura at the Field Museum in Chicago. Photo by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dinoguy2
Arthropleura was a 2???3 metre (6???10 feet) long relative of centipedes and millipedes, native to the Upper Carboniferous of Nova Scotia, the United States (Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania) and Scotland. It was the largest known land invertebrate of all time, and would have had few predators.
Arthropleura evolved from crustacean-like ancestors in the Carboniferous, and was able to grow larger than modern arthopods, partly because of the high percentage of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere at that time, and because of the lack of large terrestrial vertebrate predators. It became extinct at the start of the Permian period, when the moist climate began drying out, destroying the rainforests of the Carboniferous, and allowing the desertification characteristic of the Permian. Because of this, oxygen levels in the atmosphere began to decline to more modest levels. None of the giant arthropods could survive the new dry, lower-oxygen climate.
Like its descendants, Arthropleura was a herbivore, and was covered in a thick tough armour-like skeleton. Even though it was not a carnivore, it had a very powerful bite.
Species of Arthropleura include:
Arthropleura armata Jordan & Mayer
Arthropleura moyseyii : fossils at Bickershaw, Lancashire, UK
Its tracks have the ichnotaxon name Diplichnites cuithensis and have also been found in the Cutler Group in El Cobre Canyon, New Mexico, USA.
In popular culture
Arthropleura was featured in the BBC series Walking With Monsters (2005) as well as in Prehistoric Park (2006). It was also used as the central time-shifted creature in the second episode of the ITV series Primeval (2007), although the production increased the Arthropleura to six meters in length, and gave it a venomous bite.
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