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Open Access On the function of the ultimate legs of Cryptops and Theatops (Chilopoda, Scolopendromorpha)

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On the function of the ultimate legs of Cryptops and Theatops (Chilopoda, Scolopendromorpha)

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image of International Journal of Myriapodology

Statements in the literature suggest that the scolopendromorph centipedes Cryptops, Theatops and Plutonium use their ultimate legs to capture prey. It has been suggested that when the ultimate legs of Cryptops are exed the tibial and tarsal saw teeth are opposed, however, this is not so. There are relatively few observations of prey capture by Cryptops and none involve the ultimate legs. It is suggested that the ultimate legs are defensive; trapping some part of a potential predator and then being autotomised as the centipede makes good its escape. Although they may be involved in holding predators, this may not be the primary use of the saw teeth. In some New Zealand species the tibial saw teeth in males are arranged in several rows whereas in females there is a single row of teeth. The saw teeth may, therefore function in sexual recognition. Saw teeth may also function in species recognition before pairing takes place. That the ultimate legs of Theatops are involved in prey capture seems doubtful. Observations of the movements of the ultimate legs in living specimens and, particularly, on feeding are required.


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