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Phylum Arthropoda

Background Information
Phylum Arthropoda (arthro = joint; poda = foot) is the most numerous phylum of all
living organisms, both in number of species and in number of individuals. One, very
conservative, estimate is that there are well over one million species of insects alone. In terms of
number of individuals, there are more ants than anything else, and in terms of numbers of
species, there are more kinds of beetles than anything else: 40 to 50% of all insect species are
beetles. There are more species of insects than all other plants and animals together.
An arthropod has a segmented body covered by an exoskeleton made from chitin and
other chemicals. This exoskeleton serves as protection and provides places for muscle
attachment. Arthropods must molt because their exoskeletons don’t grow with them. Arthropods
have open circulatory systems consisting of a dorsal heart which collects blood from the body
cavity and pumps it back into the body cavity again. In insects, the anterior portion of the heart
(which is located in the abdomen) is extended into a tube that is called an aorta which directs the
blood forward as it goes out into the body cavity. Arthropods have a well-developed,
mesodermal, ventral, solid nerve cord and well-developed sense organs. The body feature from
which the phylum takes its name is the jointed appendages, which include antennae and
mouthparts as well as walking legs.

General Characteristics
1. The segmented bodies are arranged into regions, called tagmata (e.g., head, thorax,
2. The paired appendages (e.g., legs, antennae) are jointed.
3. They possess a chitinous exoskeleton that must be shed during growth.
4. They have bilateral symmetry.
5. The nervous system is dorsal (belly) and the circulatory system is open and ventral

Subphylum and Classes

Subphylum Trilobita (tri = three) are all now extinct. Their bodies were divided sideways into
three sections (the “lobes”) as well as a head and body regions.

Subphylum Chelicerata (cheli = a claw, hoof) has the first pair of appendages modified as
pincer-like mouthparts called chelicerae (these are the fangs in spiders). Their bodies are divided
into a cephalothorax (cephalo = head) and an abdomen.

Class Merostomata- book gills and telson; contains eurypterids, all now extict and
xiphosurids, an ancient group sometimes called “living fossil”

Subclass Eurypterida- include the largest known arthropods to have ever lived;
the giant water scorpion.
Subclass Xiphosurida (xipho = a sword; ura = tail) are called horseshoe crabs
because of the horseshoe-shaped carapace covering the cephalothorax. Their
abdomen is thin, long, and pointed, hence the class name. They are marine,
typically found in intertidal areas.

Class Arachnida (arachni = spider) includes scorpions, mites and ticks, daddy-long-legs,
and spiders. They have simple eyes on top of their cephalothorax. The first pair of
appendages is modified as chelicerae, small pincer-like mouthparts, which are further
modified as fangs in spiders. The second pair of appendages is modified as pedipalps
(pedi = foot; palpi = a feeler), which in spiders, look like small legs, but in scorpions are
modified as large pincers (to capture food and for defense). Arachnids have four pairs of
walking legs. Occasionally there are other appendages, like the spinnerets in spiders.
Arachnids breathe via book lungs. Arachnid orders include:

 Order Scorpionida, the scorpions, which have a poison sting at the tip of
their abdomen, just above their anus,

 Order Phalangida/ Opiliones (phalang = finger, toe), the daddy-long-legs

and harvestmen, which have long, slender legs, are not spiders, and do not
spin webs, and spider

 Order Araneida or Araneae (aranea, aranei = spider), the spiders, which

have the chelicerae modified as fangs with poison glands (used to paralyze
prey), have spinnerets on the abdomen from which they produce silk for
their webs, and are beneficial predators

 Order Acari- the ticks and mites; most acarines are minute to small (e.g.,
0.08–1.00 millimetre or 0.003–0.039 inches), but the largest Acari (some
ticks and red velvet mites) may reach lengths of 10–20 millimetres (0.4–0.8
in). Over 50,000 species have been described (as of 1999) and it is estimated
that a million or more species may exist. The study of mites and ticks is
called acarology (from Greek ἀκαρί/ἄκαρι, akari, a type of mite; and -λογία,

Class Pycnogonida (Pycnogonids, or "sea spiders") are among the most bizarre-looking
arthropods. Another name sometimes used for them, Pantopoda, means "all legs" and
describes them perfectly. Pycnogonids have extremely reduced bodies in which the
abdomen has almost disappeared, while the legs are long and clawed. The head has a
long proboscis with an unusual terminal mouth and several simple eyes on a central
tubercle. The head also bears a pair of claws and a pair of ovigers on which the eggs are
carried. All in all, it can be hard to tell just which end of a pycnogonid is the head; in this
picture the head is to the right (we think) and the proboscis has been bent under the body.

Subphylum Crustacea (crusta = crust, rind) includes crayfish and lobsters, crabs, pillbugs, and
several other groups. They have gills, thus terrestrial pillbugs need to maintain a 100% humidity
environment around their gills to be able to “breathe.” Crustaceans have the head and thorax
combined into one body region, the cephalothorax, as well as an abdomen. They have two pairs
of antennae, mandible-type mouthparts (of different evolutionary origin than mandibles in
insects), and other mouthparts which include two pairs of maxillae and three pairs of
maxillipeds, all of which are formed from modified appendages.

Class Remipedia- literally means “oar-footed; no carapace; one segmented protopods;

biramous antennules and antennae; Example Speleonectes

Class Cephalocarida- literally means “head-shrimp”; phyllopodia; one segmented

protopods ; uniramous antennules and biramous antennae example: Hutchinsoniella

Class Branchiopod- literally means “gill-footed”; phyllopodia; no maxillipeds, no

antennules; maxillae reduced. Orders include:

 Order Anostraca- fairy shrimp and brine shrimp

 Order Notostraca- tadpole shrimp
 Order Diplostraca- Water fleas

Class Ostracoda- literally means “having a shell”; bivalve carapace; body unsegmented;
no more than two pairs of trunk appendages; Examples: Cypris, Cypridina,

Class Maxillopoda- literally means “jawbone-footed; usually five cephalic, six thoracic
and four abdominal segments plus a telson. Subclasses include:

 Subclass Mystacocarida- mustache shrimps

 Subclass Copepoda- copepods
 Subclass Tantulocarida- Basipodella
 Subclass Branchiura- fish lice
 Subclass Pentastomida- tounge worms; Linguatula and Armillifer
 Subclass Cirripedia- barnacles

Class Malacostraca- literally means “soft- shelled”. Usually eight segments in thorax
plus telson in abdomen; all segements with appendages; antennules often biramous; first
one to three appendages often maxillipeds; carapace covering head and part of thorax;
sometimes absent gills, usually thoracic epipods. Orders include:

 Order Isopoda- sowbugs or pillbugs

 Order Amphipoda- Orchestia, Hyallela, Gammarus
 Order Euphausiacea- krills
 Order Decapoda- Shrimps, crabs and lobsters

Subphylum Myriapoda includes centipedes (centi = 100), and millipedes (milli = 1000).
Centipedes and millipedes don’t really have 100 or 1000 legs, but they do have lots. - literally
means “many-footed”; has two tagmata- the head and the trunk- with paired appendages on
most or all trunk segments.

 Class Symphyla (garden centipedes)- slender with long, filiform antennae; body
consisting of 15-22 segments with 10-12 pairs of legs; no eyes. Example: Scutigerella.
 Class Pauropoda (pauropods)- literally means “small-footed”; minute (1- 1.5 cm);
cylindrical body consisting of double segments and bearing 9-10 pairs of legs; no eyes.
Example: Pauropus sp.

 Class Chilopoda (centipedes)- literally means “margin-footed”; dorsoventrally flattened

body; variable number of segments, each with one pair of legs; one pair of long antennae;
oviparous Examples: Cermatia, Lithobius and Geophilus

 Class Diplopoda (millipedes)- literally means “double-footed”; body almost cylindrical;

head with short antennae and simple eyes; variable number of body segments; short legs;
usually 2 pairs of legs per segment; oviparous. Example: Julus, Spirobolus

Subphylum Hexapoda- comprises those arthropods which have three pairs of legs and three
tagmata- the head, thorax and the abdomen.

Class Entognatha- literally means “inside-jawed”; Orders include Protura (Proturans), Diplura
(japygids and campodeids) and Collembola (springtails, jumping bristletails and snow fleas)

Class Insecta- literally means “to cut into”. The most abundant among hexapods, among
pancrustaceans, among arthropods and among animal kingdom. Subclasses include Apterygota
(consists only of Order Thysanura, silverfish) and Pterygota (majority have wings). Pterygota
are further classified into Infraclass Paleoptera [which includes the Orders Ephemeroptera
(mayflies) and Odonata (dragonflies and Damselflies)] and Infraclass Neoptera.

Infraclass Neoptera Orders

 Order Orthoptera- Wings, when present, with forewings thickened and hindwings folded
like a fan under forewings; chewing mouthparts; grasshoppers, locusts and katydids.

 Order Blattodea- Common insects in tropical areas, often in houses in northern areas;
oval, flattened bodies may exceed 5 cm in length; tarsi with 5 segments; wings typically
present; often reduced; cockroaches

 Order Phasmatodea- Bodies elongated and sticklike or flattened and laterally expanded;
herbivorous, tropical forms may be very large (up to 30 cm); walking sticks; leaf insects

 Order Mantodea- Bodies elongated with raptorial front legs; predatory; may reach 10 cm
in length; mantids

 Order Mantophasmatodea- Secondarily wingless; chewing mouthparts; resemble a

combination of praying mantis and walking stick; nocturnal pretadors on insects and
spiders; described in 2002; rare; gladiators

 Order Dermaptera- Very short forewings; large and membranous hindwings folded
under forewings when at rest; chewing mouthparts; forceps-like cerci; earwigs

 Order Plecoptera- Membranous wings; larger and fanlike hindwings; aquatic nymphs
with tufts at tracheal gills; stoneflies
 Order Isoptera- Small membranous narrow wings similar in size with few veins; wings
shed at maturity; erroneously called “white ants”; distinguishable from true ants through
broad union of thorax and abdomen; termites

 Order Embiidina- Small; male wings membranous, narrow and similar in size; wingless
females; chewing mouthparts; colonial; make silk-lined channels in tropical soil;

 Order Psocoptera- Body usually small, may be as large as 10 mm; membranous, narrow
wings with few vwins, usually held roof-like over abdomen when at rest; found on
books, barks, bird’s nest, on foliage; psocids, book lice, bark lice.

 Order Zoraptera- As large as 2.5 mm; membranous, narrow wings usually shed at
maturity; colonial and termite-like; zorapterans

 Order Phthiraptera- Wingless ectoparasite adapted for clinging to warm blooded hosts.
Sucking Lice form the suborder Anoplura which includes head, crab and body lice.
Chewing lice are the rest suborders; lice

 Order Thysanoptera- 0.5-5 mm long; wings if present, long, very narrow, with few veins
and fringed with long hairs; sucking mouthparts; destructive planteaters; but some feed
on insects; thrips

 Order Hemiptera- Piercing and sucking mouth parts; three suborders:

• Suborder Heteroptera- true bugs; sclerotized forewings; peststrue bugs,
hoppers and cicadas
• Suborder Auchenorrhyncha- hoppers and cicadas- typical forewings and
• Suborder Sternorrhyncha- white flies, mealy bugs, psyllids; plant pests

 Order Neuroptera – The name Neuroptera translates into "nerve-wing" which refers to
the numerous veins and crossveins that are normally found in these insects. The order is
divided into three suborders, the Megaloptera (alderflies and dobsonflies), the
Raphidioptera (snakeflies) and the largest group, the Planipenna (lacewings, antlions,
mantidflies and owlflies).

 Order Coleoptera- The largest order of animals in the world; front wings or ELYTRA
are thick, hard and opaque; membranous hind wings; biting and chewing mouthparts;
beetles, weevils and fireflies

 Order Sterpsiptera- Females wingless, without eyes or antenna; males with vestigial
forewings and fan-shaped hindwings; larvae parasites of bees, wasps, etc.; stylops or
twisted wings parasite

 Order Mecoptera- Wings long, slender with many veins; males with scorpion-like
clasping organ at the end of abdomen.; scorpionflies

 Order Lepidoptera- Membranous wings covered with overlapping scales; wings coupled
or overlapping; butterflies and moths

 Order Diptera- Piercing, sponging, lapping and sucking mouth parts; single pair of
wings, membranous and narrow; true flies
 Order Trichoptera- Small; soft bodies; wings well-veined and partially scaled, hairy,
folded rooflike over hairy body, chewing mouthparts; caddisflies

 Order Siphonaptera- Small; wingless; bodies laterally compressed; legs adapted for
leaping; ectoparasites or micropredators of birds and mammals; larvae legless,
maggotlike scavengers; fleas

 Order Hymenoptera- Membranous, narrow wings coupled distally; subordinate

hindwings; chewing and lapping mouth parts; ant,bees and wasps

Paths of Evolution
From the wormlike ancestor, one evolutionary path led to the extinct trilobites and the
chelicerates. Trilobites were marine organisms that were particularly numerous in the Cambrian
Period, 570 million to 500 million years ago. They had flattened bodies molded longitudinally
into three lobes whose segments bore paired limbs with fringed hairs. The chelicerates include
arachnids—false scorpions, harvestmen, mites, scorpions, solifugids (see sun spider), spiders,
and ticks—as well as king crabs (Xiphosura), sea spiders (Pycnogonida), and the eurypterids—
gigantic, scorpionlike marine animals, now extinct. The body of a chelicerate is divided into two
regions, or tagmata: an anterior prosoma, or cephalothorax, and a posterior abdomen, or
opisthosoma. It has no distinct head, and the prosoma is without antennae. It bears pincerlike
chelicerae (jaws) and sometimes pedipalps. These may take the form of claws in scorpions and
false scorpions; tactile and feeding organs in solifugids, harvestmen, and mites; or reproductive
organs in male spiders.

The second evolutionary path led to the crustacea—barnacles, brine shrimps, crabs,
copepods, lobsters, ostracods, shrimps, water fleas, and their allies. With the exception of wood
lice, slaters, and land crabs, crustaceans are mostly aquatic, respiring by means of gills. They are
equipped with two pairs of antennae; the eyes, when present, may be stalked or unstalked, and
the limbs are often specialized. Many crustaceans have adopted a parasitic mode of life and show
appropriate adaptations of their anatomy and life history.

The last assemblage of arthropods has evolved through animals such as the Peripatus,
which retains many wormlike characteristics, to millipedes, symphylans, centipedes, and
springtails and other insects. These groups possess one pair of antennae and simple and
compound eyes. Like crustaceans, they feed with the aid of mandibles; but the crustacea use the
basal part, or gnathobase, of a modified limb for masticating their food, whereas in the groups
under discussion an entire limb has become a jaw, and its tip is used for biting. The crustaceans
also resemble the arachnids in that the excretory coxal glands are divided from coelomoducts,
whereas the Malpighian tubules of insects and their allies are outgrowths from the alimentary

Mode of Reproduction
Arthropods' methods of reproduction and development are diverse; all terrestrial species use
internal fertilization, but this is often by indirect transfer of the sperm via an appendage or the
ground, rather than by direct injection. Aquatic species use either internal or external
fertilization. Almost all arthropods lay eggs, but scorpions give birth to live young after the eggs
have hatched inside the mother. Arthropod hatchlings vary from miniature adults to grubs and
caterpillars that lack jointed limbs and eventually undergo a total metamorphosis to produce the
adult form. The level of maternal care for hatchlings varies from zero to the prolonged care
provided by scorpions.

1. Oviparity- internal fertilization takes place but the eggs will be layed. Occurs widely in
all terrestrial arthropods such as insects.

Metamorphosis- process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form

in two or more distinct stages.

a. Simple metamorphosis or hemimetabolism

Insects who go through simple (or incomplete) metamorphosis have three
life stages. These insects start as eggs, which are usually very small. When the
egg hatches, a larva or nymph comes out. Nymphs are just baby insects. Most of
the time, the nymph looks similar to the adult, but it is smaller, may have different
colouration, and does not have wings. The nymph grows through stages called
instars, shedding its 'skin' (epicuticle) at each stage (ecdysis). Finally, it changes
into a mature adult with wings. Some insect nymphs are aquatic, which means
they live in water. These nymphs usually have gills and look very different from
the adults they will turn into. Nymphs that live in water are called naiads.
Some insects that have a life cycle of egg-nymph-adult are cockroaches,
dragonflies, grasshoppers and true bugs

b. Complete metamorphosis or holometabolism

Insects that have complete metamorphosis have four life stages. These
insects start as eggs, which are very small. The egg hatches and a larva come out.
The larva looks like a worm and eats and eats so that it can grow much bigger.
When the larva has grown it changes into a pupa. The pupa usually cannot move
or eat. The pupa is a special time when the insect is changing into an adult that
will look very different from the larva or the pupa. Moth pupae (plural of pupa)
are inside cocoons. When the pupa opens, the adult insect comes out.
Many insects have a life cycle of egg-larva-pupa-adult. Some of these
insects are beetles, bees, wasps, ants, sawflies, butterflies, moths and the flies.
c. Direct Metamorphosis or ametabolism-

2. Ovuliparity- external fecundation; occurs in aquatic arthropods such as crustaceans.

3. Viviparity- internal fecundation and give birth to their hatchlings such as scorpions. All
scorpions are viviparous. Most species require a male and a female for reproduction.

4. Parthenogenesis- this occurs rarely in some scorpions. Here, a scorpion can reproduce by
its own. Impregnation can take place even without a partner.