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Among the soil-dwelling arthropods the centipedes or Chilopoda constitute an important predatory animal group of more than 3.000 species worldwide. With the exception of Antarctica centipedes inhabit all continents from the coasts up to the mountain regions. Although they reach their biggest diversity in the tropics and the subtropics, over 500 species are described for Central Europe. Due to their nocturnal and furtive habits the Chilopoda are widely unknown, however.
The European representatives belong to the orders Scutigeromorpha (house centipedes), Lithobiomorpha (stone centipedes), Scolopendromorpha (tropical centipedes) and Geophilomorpha (soil centipedes), while the Craterostigmomorpha comprise only two species found in New Zealand and in Tasmania, respectively. The name "centipede" is delusive, however, because only some Geophilomorpha have more than 150 pairs of legs while the remaining groups "only" have 15-23 pairs of legs.
The present monograph of the Chilopoda outlines the current knowledge about this intriguing animal group. The attempt is made to summarize the information recorded in a huge number of older and newer original publications. The families are described depicting their anatomical and morphological specifics. Detailed information is given about development and reproduction, physiology, behaviour, ecology etc.
The book offers a valuable introduction to the Chilopoda for everyone who is concerned with centipedes. Information about keeping and breeding centipedes is provided to encourage the reader to make own observations about these fascinating arthropods.