Common Name: Giant African Millipede

Scientific Name: Mardonius aculeatus


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Diplopoda

Order: Spirastreptida

Family: Spirostreptidae

Genus: Mardonius

Species: M. aculeatus


Known as thousand legged worms, the Mardonius aculeatus are a gray to brown, worm like creatures. Fossil evidence suggests that they were also the first animals known to live on land and breathe air.


They are approximately 13 to 38 mm long with at least 30 pairs of legs. Even though they are known as the thousand legged worms, they do not actually have a thousand legs, also, they have a pair of short antennae. Commonly they are found to be gray or brown in color. 

The Mardonius aculeatus live in some interesting habitats. These spunky creatures can be found lurking in the forests of Madagascar. There are about 10,000 named species. The current conservation status is they are not endangered or threatened. They make nests to lay their eggs in when they reproduce.

Most Mardonius aculeatus like to be more active at night to find their food. They like to eat plant leafs. It uses its powerful jaw to only eat dead leafs and plant leafs. Mardonius aculeatus have a few predators like birds, badgers, and shrews. It prevents itself from getting eaten by spraying hydrocyanic acid when disturbed. They cannot move quickly though, so if they do feel in danger they will coil into a spiral.


Many years ago, based on fossil evidence, the Mardonius aculeatus were the first animals known to live on land and breathe air.  These creatures are known for some pretty amazing things.  For their size they have many pairs of legs and are usually gray or brown in color.  They live in the forests of Madagascar and there are almost 10,000 name species. While small in size it’s able to defend itself from predators by using hydrocyanic acid or coiling into a spiral, what an interesting creature.


Published: 02/2013


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