The myriapods comprise four classes of multi-legged arthropods with at least 18 legs (9 pairs) in adults. Two of these classes, the Diplopoda (millipedes) and Chilopoda (centipedes) primarily include relatively large-bodied, macroscopic organisms that are readily seen by the general public and are addressed in this website. The other two classes, Symphyla and Pauropoda, which lack common names, are microscopic organims that are at most only a few mm in length and will not be addressed herein. The Diplopoda and Chilopoda are ecologically important classes that occur throughout the temperate and tropical zones of the world and have been unintentionally introduced by man onto most oceanic islands. They are major components of terrestrial ecosystems including even xeric (desert) environments, yet they are poorly known and have been relatively ignored by past and present biologists. Worldwide there are only around 15 actively publishing diplopodologists and only five in the entire Western Hemisphere, all in the United States; even fewer biologists conduct research on chilopods, as there are about a dozen worldwide and only four in the Americas. Despite this inattention by professional biologists, considerable interest exists on myriapods among the general public on all continents. Amateur chat lines exist on the Web; large-bodied millipedes and centipedes are imported from tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and South America and sold in pet stores throughout the US; and a substantial number of people engage in husbandry. If one searches for millipedes or centipedes in a search engine on the Web, a host of sites turn up, but much of the information on them is inaccurate or incomplete. A need exists for a professionally run website with factually accurate information that is retrievable by search engines, and this site has been established to fill this void.
This site provides both general information on millipedes and centipedes, and results of scientific research conducted by J. E. Bond and students in the Biology Department at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA, and R. M. Shelley, Curator of Terrestrial Invertebrates, North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences (NCSM), Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. There are introductory pages on both millipedes and centipedes with general information and ones devoted to ongoing research projects at both institutions; the latter involve extensive collaborations with colleagues both in the US and other countries and continents, and will be updated periodically as new information becomes available. There is also a photo gallery page where, through active field work, we will attempt to eventually provide quality color pictures of representatives of the major taxa occurring in the New World and will post ones sent to us by colleagues. We will also have a page of links to other sites with photos and accurate information on these organisms.