There are about 300 species of centipedes, millipedes, Pauropoda, Symphyla and velvet worms in Tasmania. This website will help you identify these Tasmanian 'multipedes' (native and introduced) and will direct you to some relevant books, reports and papers. Also provided are up-to-date distribution maps for most Tasmanian species of centipede, millipede and velvet worm.

Start with the keys if you want to identify a Tasmanian multipede. Start with the checklist if you already know the scientific name of the multipede and want more information about that species.

Unless otherwise indicated, the text, photos, maps and drawings on this site are my own work and are copyright under a Creative Commons license (attribution + non-commercial, by-nc). You are welcome to use or copy the information on the Tasmanian Multipedes website for non-commercial purposes. Please cite the Tasmanian Multipedes URL in your work so that others know where you got the information. For higher-resolution versions of any of the images on this website, please contact me at the email address below.

Please note that nearly all of Tasmania's native multipedes are endemic to Tasmania. This means that even if you find a multipede somewhere else in the world which looks almost exactly like one of the native Tasmanians on this website, it is highly unlikely that they are the same animal. Note also there are whole groups of multipedes found elsewhere in the world (including mainland Australia) which are not found in Tasmania. Non-Tasmanian users should identify their multipedes using references written for their own part of the world. 

Robert Mesibov
West Ulverstone, Tasmania, Australia
robert (dot) mesibov (at) gmail (dot) com

As of 25 September 2013, I no longer maintain this website. For taxonomic and distribution information about Tasmania's millipedes, go to Millipedes of Australia. Send me an email if you have technical queries about other groups, but please note that the information here is likely to be out of date.

Technical stuff

This website is aimed at students, teachers and naturalists. The first version of the site went online in 2003 and was hosted by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania. The current, much simpler version is commercially hosted. In the last version (2007-2010), the distribution maps were dynamically generated by a client-server process using javascript and a Flash application (WorldKit). This version of Tasmanian Multipedes uses static map images which pop up on mouse-hover (pure CSS). There is no scripting or Flash on this site, which is built with XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS 2.

Tasmanian Multipedes is regularly updated online. If you'd like your own, date-marked copy of this website, email me for a .tar archive. The current version is ca 7 mb.

Note that 'multipedes' as used on this website is not a natural grouping. Centipedes, millipedes, Pauropoda and Symphyla make up the Myriapoda, which is a natural group within the phylum Arthropoda. Velvet worms are classified separately, in the phylum Onychophora.

By the way — the word 'multipede' is more than 250 years old!

This wave-like peculiarity of motion [in millipedes] is described in a curious old book, An Essay towards a Natural History of Serpents. Charles Owen, D.D. London, 1742: 'The Ambua, so the natives of Brazil call the Millepedes and the Centipedes, are serpents. Those reptiles of thousand legs bend as they crawl along, and are reckoned very poisonous. In these Multipedes the mechanism of the body is very curious: in their going it is observable that on each side of their bodies every leg has its motion, so that their legs, being numerous, form a kind of undulation, and thereby communicate to the body a swifter progression than one could imagine where so many short feet are to take so many short steps, that follow one another rolling on like the waves of the sea.' (pp. 40-41)
Sinclair, F.G. 1901. Myriapoda. Pp. 27-80 in The Cambridge Natural History. Volume V. Peripatus. Myriapods. Insects. London: Macmillan and Co.; 584 pp.