Why are geophilomorph centipedes so long?

Are there any theories about the advantages of being so long? I can see why it is useful to be thin if you live in soil, but why is it better to have dozens of body segments instead of, say, five? I don’t think there are ovaries in all the segments, so greater length doesn’t mean increased breeding rate. They are predatory, so their food is high quality and shouldn’t need a particularly long gut. Do they perhaps overcome their prey by coiling themselves around it?


I think it may be connected with taking care of offspring? Females are longer and they curl around their eggs. I red now that in hunt they use it too when prey is big like worms.


Thanks. I didn’t know they exhibited maternal care.

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Strigamia spp. (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/67981907) use their tarsal claws to latch onto snails, earthworms, and even the mouths of predators (and the fingers of curious humans), and a tapered head to reach small prey in crevices or shells. I’d say the extra surface area doesn’t hurt their predatory capabilities.

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Here is an example

I believe their long bodies are simply an adaptation to burrowing, much like various worms (many marine polychaetes have a body form very similar to geophilids), legless reptiles and amphibians etc. A long narrow body seems to be the best shape for a small animal to efficiently move through a subterranean environment.

Increasing the number of segments is simply the way a myriapod gets longer without sacrificing mobility, much like how vertebrates will get longer necks/bodies by adding extra vertebrae.


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