Animals can be grouped according to the number of limbs, starting with zero to many. Mammals, amphibians, and reptiles have four limbs with some of the latter having none at all. Birds have two legs, and insects have six and arachnids have eight. However, some animals have more than ten limbs. Animals with a large number of legs fall under the phylum Arthropoda, which is characterized by segmented bodies and paired jointed legs. The prefix “milli-” means 1,000, but there have not been any discovery of a millipede with that number of limbs.
Millipede Illacme plenipes
The Illacme plenipes is a white millipede in Northern California. The millipede ranks as the animal with the most limbs on Earth, having 750. On average, these millipedes have close to 600 legs, which still rank at the top. Rediscovered in 2005, the first description of Illacme plenipes was in 1928. This millipede is small compared to other species of millipedes, with the females being slightly larger and having more limbs than the males. The millipede’s length is between 0.4 and 1.2 inches. Human development threatens Illacme plenipes with most of the fog vaporizing due to climate change leaving their habitat dry.
Centipede Himantarium gabrielis
The Himantarium gabrielis ranks as the second animal with a large number of legs and can measure up to 5.1 to 8.7 inches in length. The centipede species has 354 legs, with a small head and no eyes. The body is segmented up to 179 times with a variable number of limbs in males and females. In males, the segments with legs range from 87 to 171 whereas females have a range between 95 and 179. These millipedes widely occupy the Mediterranean region and feed on some invertebrates.
Centipede Haploophilus subterraneus
Haploophilus subterraneus is a yellowish centipede species that grows to a length of up to 2.7 inches. The centipede usually has between 77 and 83 pairs of legs. This species ranks as the animal with the third highest number of limbs at 178. They move swiftly and hunt worms, snails, and insects, as well as eating plants. Haploophilus subterraneus have their habitat in Britain and Ireland.
Millipedes have approximately 2,000 species, with the common ones having between 34 and 400 limbs. The legs are in two pairs in most of the segments in a millipede’s body. Males have longer limbs than females, although, in some species, they have a shortened or extended the first pair.
Symphylans are arthropods that dwell in the soil and in turn, have earned the name garden centipedes. They have between 15 and 24 segments in their trunks of which ten or twelve have a pair of legs each. Symphylans have more than 200 species, with the young having 12 limbs while the adults grow up to 24. They lack eyes, and therefore, their sense organs come in the form of long antennae. These arthropods are similar to centipedes; however, they are smaller and shiny.
Other animals with multiple limbs include caterpillars and woodlice at 16 and 14 respectively. Caterpillars mature to become butterflies and moths. Crabs and shrimps have ten limbs with the former having a pair of claws. Spiders being arachnids have eight legs.