A previously unknown feeding mode in millipedes and the convergence of fluid feeding across arthropods


We report fluid feeding with a sucking pump in the arthropod class Diplopoda, using a combination of synchrotron tomography, histology, electron microscopy, and three-dimensional reconstructions. Within the head of nine species of the enigmatic Colobognatha, we found a pumping chamber, which acts as positive displacement pump and is notably similar to that of insects, showing even fine structural convergences. The sucking pump of these millipedes works together with protractible mouthparts and externally secreted saliva for the acquisition of liquid food. Fluid feeding is one of the great evolutionary innovations of terrestrial arthropods, and our study suggests that it evolved with similar biomechanical solutions convergent across all major arthropod taxa. While fluid-feeding insects are megadiverse today, it remains unclear why other lineages, such as Colobognatha, are comparably species poor.
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