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Introduction

Pauropods are small (less than 5 mm), pale, terrestrial arthropods that are rarely encountered by the casual observer. Superficially they may resemble insects such as collembolans or psocopterans, but adult pauropods have 11 (or sometimes 12) body segments and 9 (or sometimes 10 or 11) pairs of legs. They also possess unique forked antennae (see figure below) and a distinctive locomotory pattern characterized by rapid burst of movement and frequent abrupt changes in direction. Most pauropods lack eyes and a tracheal system.

Habitus of a typical pauropod, Pauropus huxleyi. Note the unique forked antennae. There are eleven body segments, and nine of the segments feature a single pairs of legs. From above the apparent number of segments is smaller since a few of the segments are partially fused along the back. Drawing after Lubbock.

Pauropods can be found in soil, decaying wood, leaf litter, and other moist places, where they feed on fungi and decaying organic matter. Over 500 species of pauropods have been described so far.

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