Giant green pill millipede, Zoosphaerium neptunus, Sphaerotheriida
Found only in Madagascar, this species is the largest pill millipede in the world, sometimes reaching almost 4 inches in length. Although superficially resembling pill bug isopods (aka roly polies), they are not related.
Photos 1-2 by jujurenoult, 3-5 by kristofz, 6-7 by imbeaul, 8 by erlandreflingnielsen, 9 by hdmiller, and 10 by rjq
If creepy crawlies make you uncomfortable, be glad you weren't living in the Carboniferous period (around 100 million years before the dinosaurs arrived) in what is now Northumberland in the UK.
Scientists have made an astonishing discovery along this part of the coast of northeast England: a 326 million-year-old fossil, showing traces of the largest millipede ever discovered. It's estimated to have been some 2.7 meters (nearly 9 feet) long – so we're talking about the length of a car.
The remains are from the now-extinct Arthropleura genus of arthropod millipedes, and elevate this class of creature to be the largest-known invertebrate of all time. The discovery, originally made in 2018, was a chance one however.
What was the hardest question my kids ever asked me. It wasn’t ‘where do babies come from’ or any of the other, associated questions you might guess. I’m pretty sure it was,
“Mom, what’s a pillbug? Because they have more than six legs, so they’re not insects.”
And that, my friends, stopped me in my tracks. What the hell IS a pillbug? The problem being, this happened when the internet was a much younger place, and the slowness of our service made the kind of searches we all take for granted now very, VERY slow and painstaking. But obviously, a questions as burning as that one HAD to be answered.
I started with my late mother’s treasured selection of nature field guides. The insect one has a small section for things not technically insects, but still somewhat ‘buggy.’ Ticks, mites, spiders, etc. No joy on the pillbugs, tho.
The answer, when I finally found it, surprised me. What I’d been calling a pillbug was actually two different things; completely non-related but looking very similar.
And - that was just one of the joys I had in parenting. Kids look at the world in such a fresh, interested way, and notice things adults don’t. The pill millipede has a smooth segment on its butt, and the little terrestrial crustacean ‘pillbug’ has markings on its butt that hint at the lobster-y tail it once had eons ago.
I was cleaning and changing Udons soil when I found this guy in some of the native plant substrate I use. It’s funny the size difference between PA millepede and a Florida millepede! I put the lil guy outside after