Brief Summary


Worldwide. Usually in soil. Some are herbivorous, others predaceous, actively hunting small arthropods. 7-9 Families (5 in North America), 800 Species (70 in North America).

  The fossil record of diplurans is sparse; there is an apparent Dipluran from the Carboniferous.

  Derivation of name: diploos - double, oura - tail, referring to the two prominent cerci.


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Comprehensive Description

Diplurans are small, whitish hexapods that are found in damp places in soil, leaf litter, under dead wood, and in caves (Borror, Triplehorn, and Johnson 1989, Grimaldi & Engel 2005). The representatives of most species are less than 5 mm long. They have tracheae but lack eyes, wings, or Malpighian tubules. They have chewing mouthparts, which are withdrawn into the head, and their mandibles have a single articulation. The abdomen is 11-segmented, but the the tenth and eleventh segment fuse in the embryo before hatching, so it appears that there are only 10 segments. The abdomen bears six or seven pairs of simple appendages (styli), and there are two caudal cerci. Fertilization is indirect, and there are no external genitalia. Spermatophores are deposited and received via a simple gonopore on the 9th segment (Brusca & Brusca 2003, Grimaldi & Engel 2005).

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© Schulz, Katja

Source: EOL Rapid Response Team


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Among the derived features of diplurans are: 
  • eyeless 
  • tentorium absent 
  • unique muscles and pivots in legs 
   Other characteristics: 
  • mostly white 
  • two prominent cerci, either long and filiform or short and forcep-like 
  • long, slender antennae 
  The lack of eyes, color, and long, slender antennae can be seen in the following japygid from the Santa Catalina Mountains of Arizona:



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