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Why do millipedes have so many legs? © Getty Images

Why do millipedes have so many legs?

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Asked by: Henry Butler, Canterbury

Though no known millipede species has 1,000 legs, common species of this burrowing arthropod have between 40 and 400 legs – more than enough to move the millipede forwards with impressive heft.

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Like an army of tiny soldiers running a giant battering ram into a wall, this adaptation allows the millipede’s head to be forced into the cracks between lumps of soil where the most delicious leaf matter often resides. These crevices also offer excellent protection from predators.

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Authors

Jules Howard is a zoology correspondent, naturalist and author of more than 10 books including The Wildlife Pond Handbook. He writes for a number of publications including The Guardian, Science Focus and BBC Wildlife Magazine.

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