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Pill millipede

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Title: Pill millipede  
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Subject: Millipede, Sphaerotheriida, Armadillidiidae, Woodlouse, List of Myriapoda species of Ireland
Collection: Millipedes
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Pill millipede

Pill millipedes
A giant pill millipede from India.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Myriapoda
Class: Diplopoda
Subclass: Chilognatha
Infraclass: Pentazonia
Superorder: Oniscomorpha
Pocock, 1887 [1]



Armadillomorpha Verhoeff, 1915

Pill millipedes are any members of two living (and one extinct) orders of millipedes, often grouped together into a single superorder, Oniscomorpha. The name Oniscomorpha refers to the millipedes' resemblance to certain woodlice (Oniscidea), also called pillbugs or "roly-polies". However, millipedes and woodlice are not closely related, belonging to the subphyla Myriapoda and Crustacea, respectively.

Pill millipedes are relatively short-bodied compared to most other millipedes, with only eleven to thirteen body segments,[2] and are capable of rolling into a ball when disturbed. This ability evolved separately in each of the two orders, making it a case of convergent evolution, rather than homology.[3] Pill millipedes are detritivorous, feeding on decomposing plant matter, usually in woodlands.[4]

Comparison of a pill millipede (above: Glomeris marginata) and a pillbug (below: Armadillidium vulgare)



The order Glomerida is predominantly found in the Northern Hemisphere and includes species such as Glomeris marginata, the common European pill millipede. They have from eleven to twelve body segments, and possess dorsal ozopores (openings of the repugnatorial glands) rather than the lateral ozopores found on many other millipedes.[3] Glomeridans reach maximum lengths of 20 mm (0.79 in), and eyes, if present, are in a single row of ocelli.[5] The order contains approximately 450 species[6] found in Europe, South-east Asia and the Americas from California to Guatemala.[7] Four species are present in the British Isles.[8]


The order Sphaerotheriida is a Gondwana-distribution taxon, with around 100 species in southern Africa, Madagascar,[9] Australasia[10] and South East Asia.[7] Five species, all in the genus Procyliosoma are present in New Zealand,[10] and around thirty species are present in Australia.[11] Sphaerotheriidans have thirteen body segments, and do not possess repugnatorial glands. Spherotheriidans reach larger size than Glomeridans (up to 10 cm (3.9 in)), and always possess large, kidney-shaped eyes.[5]


Amynilyspes wortheni fossil illustration

Oniscomorpha also includes the extinct order Amynilyspedida from the upper Carboniferous of North America.[2][12] Amynilyspedida differs from the other Oniscomorph orders in having 14-15 segments.[13] The order contains the genus Amynilyspes with unique spines on the tergites and possibly the genus Glomeropsis.[13]


  1. ^ Shear, W. (2011). "Class Diplopoda de Blainville in Gervais, 1844. In: Zhang, Z.-Q. (Ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness" (PDF). Zootaxa 3148: 159–164. 
  2. ^ a b P. R. Racheboeuf, J. T. Hannibal & J. Vannier (2004). (Oniscomorpha) from the Stephania lagerstätte of Montceau-les-Mines, France"Anymilyspes"A new species of the diplopod .  
  3. ^ a b "Defining Features of Nominal Clades of Diplopoda" ( 
  4. ^ "Pill millipedes fact file".  
  5. ^ a b "Diagnostic features of Millipede Orders" (PDF). Milli-PEET Identification Tables. The Field Museum, Chicago. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Golovatch, Sergei; Mauriès, Jean-Paul; Akkari, Nesrine; Stoev, Pavel; Geoffroy, Jean-Jacques (2009). Latreille, 1802 (Diplopoda, Glomerida, Glomeridae) in North Africa"Glomeris"The millipede genus (PDF). ZooKeys 12: 47–86.  
  7. ^ a b "Biogeography of millipede families" ( 
  8. ^ "Millipedes of Britain and Ireland: systematic check list". British Myriapod and Isopod Group. Retrieved March 2014. 
  9. ^ Wesener, T.; Bespalova, I.; Sierwald, P. (2010). )"Zoosphaerium"Madagascar's living giants: discovery of five new species of endemic giant pill-millipedes from Madagascar (Diplopoda: Sphaerotheriida: Arthrosphaeridae: .  
  10. ^ a b M. A. Minor & A.W. Robertson (May 7, 2007). "Diplopoda". Guide to New Zealand soil invertebrates.  
  11. ^ "Checklist for Sphaerotheriida Brandt, 1833". Australian Faunal Directory.  
  12. ^ Hoffman, R. L. 1969. Myriapoda, exclusive of Insecta. In Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Pt. R, Arthropoda 4, ed. RC Moore, 2:R572–606. Geological Society of America, Inc., and The University of Kansas.
  13. ^ a b Hannibal, Joseph T; Feldmann, Rodney M. (1981). "Systematics and Functional Morphology of Oniscomorph Millipedes (Arthropoda: Diplopoda) from the Carboniferous of North America". Journal of Paleontology 55 (4): 730–746. 
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