Mud and silk in the dark: A new type of millipede moulting chamber and first observations on the maturation moult in the order Callipodida
The postembryonic development of millipedes includes a series of stadia separated by moults, a process known as anamorphosis. The moulting process and especially the moulting into maturity, i.e., with fully developed copulatory organs, remains unknown for most millipede species. We have kept specimens of Lusitanipus alternans (Verhoeff, 1893) in the laboratory for one year and studied its moulting process, including the first study of the maturation moult in the order Callipodida. Unlike the typical silk cocoon reported for other callipodidans, this species builds a new type of solid moulting chamber, using the available substrate reinforced by a silken web. We present the detailed ultrastructure of the moulting chamber and silk. It takes five days to build the moulting chamber and between 29 (female) and 35 (male) days to shed the exuviae. The male maturation moult is preceded by an evagination of a gonopodal sac between the 6th and 7th body rings, in which the gonopods are developed. Females evaginated completely their vulval sacs, retracting them after shedding the exuviae. Vulval sac size seems to increase with the progressive reduction of the second pair of legs.
Keywords: Postembryonic development; Anamorphosis; Cave; Spinneret
press: Diário de Notícias (Pt); Jornal de Notícias (Pt)