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Myriapods from the Lower Devonian of Great Britain

Myriapods are among the oldest land animals. They are small elongated animals with a multisegmented trunk and numerous pairs of legs.  
In the oldest fossil record mainly millepedes occurred. This is probably due to the fact that they had a robust calcified cuticle, in contrast with centipedes which possessed (and possess) a very thin cuticle.
Most fossils of Myriapoda have been formed in water-lain sediments. That's why it is not sure that they were real land animals in all cases.

From the Lower and Middle Silurian some myriapod fossils have been described, e.g. the species Archidesmus loganensis from the region of Lesmahagow. But some doubts remain about the nature of these fossils.
Most finds of myriapods come from the region around Forfar, north of Dundee. These fossils date from the lowermost Devonian (Gedinnian) and are of about the same age as the Rhynie chert fossils. These myriapods occur in association with remains of the plants Zosterophyllum myretonianum and Parka decipiens.

We have found a cluster of myriapods in an old quarry in the Brecon Beacons (Wales). They are for research at the University of Cardiff.

Click on the slides for enlargement and for more information. The first two are from Scotland, the third one is from Wales.

1. Kampecaris forfarensis
The Kampecaris-animals belong to the Myriapoda, but they were not millipedes or centipedes. They possessed a relatively short body ( 2 - 3 cm) with a characteristic swollen tail-unit. It is not sure that they were land animals: possibly they lived permanently in the water.

2. Archidesmus macnicoli
This species was a real millipede and a land animal. It could reach a length of 5 cm with more than 30 segments, having at least two pairs of legs at each segment.

New! 3. Unidentified myriapods from the Brecon Beacons (Wales)
Myriapods from the Brecon Beacons