The origins of the giant pill-millipedes from Madagascar (Diplopoda: Sphaerotheriida: Arthrosphaeridae)

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Thomas WesenerPetra Sierwald


Giant pill-millipedes (order Sphaerotheriida) are large-bodied millipedes without poison glands which can roll-up into a complete ball. Their disconnected area of distribution spanning South Africa, Madagascar, India, SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand makes them interesting model organisms for biogeographic studies. The here presented phylogeny is based on a molecular dataset covering all areas of distribution with a special focus on Madagascar, where some species of giant pill-millipedes show island gigantism, reaching the size of a baseball. For our study, two mitochondrial genes (partial 16S rRNA and COI) as well as the complete nuclear 18S rDNA were sequenced. While many recent vertebrate studies hint that the ancestors of the recent Malagasy fauna crossed the >350 km wide Mozambique Channel several times, no such crossing was discovered in the Sphaerotheriida. For the first time in a molecular phylogenetic study of soil arthropods, a Madagascar-India group, the family Arthrosphaeridae, is recovered, hinting to a Gondwanan origin of the Sphaerotheriida. The Malagasy-Indian family Arthrosphaeridae forms a monophyletic, statistically well-supported group in all obtained trees. The giant pill-millipedes from Madagascar are pa...Continue Reading


Jan 27, 1999·Bioinformatics·D Posada, K A Crandall
Mar 1, 2003·Nature·Anne D YoderJohn J Flynn
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Dec 19, 2003·Nucleic Acids Research·Jan WuytsYves Van De Peer
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Nov 27, 2008·Proceedings. Biological Sciences·Michael J RaupachJohann-Wolfgang Wägele
Dec 1, 2009·Arthropod Structure & Development·William A Shear, Gregory D Edgecombe

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