Thalassisobates littoralis, Seil Island, Scotland. Photograph copyright Tony Barber
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Class CHILOPODA

Centipedes are relatively large animals, 5mm to 80mm or more, distinguished by having the first pair of legs modified as poison claws (forcipules) which lie under the head and 15 to more than a hundred further trunk segments (always an odd number) each bearing a single pair of legs. Unlike the mostly herbivorous millipedes, centipedes are carnivores and often very active when disturbed. In the orders Scutigeromorpha and Lithobiomorpha (and the Australasian Craterostigmomorpha) the youngest (larval) stages have fewer leg pairs than adults but in Scutigeromorpha and Geophilomorpha the animals are born with a complete set (which may vary as between sexes and within a species); this can be useful in the identification of geophilomorphs.

About 3,000 species of centipedes have been described worldwide of which about 1,000 are members of the order Geophilomorpha which contains a number of littoral species.

Order SCUTIGEROMORPHA

These are very active animals with 15 pairs of extremely long legs and compound eyes which includes the so called “house centipede” Scutigera coleoptrata Linné, 1758.

Pallas (1772) wrote of Julus araneoides (Scutigera coleoptrata) as “insectum pelagicum ab amico mihi Navarcho quodam inter susceptos in Oceano Atlantico Fuci natatis fasciculos”. Scutigeromorphs are seen in coastal localities in various parts of the world. In Jersey S. coleoptrata has been collected amongst large pebbles above high water mark and seems to occur in similar situations on the French Channel coast (Barber 2006).

Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorScutigera coleoptrata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
North Mediterranean; Europe; Asia; North America...
    = Julus araneoides Linnaeus, 1758 
  

Order LITHOBIOMORPHA

These are relatively short bodied, active species with 15 leg pairs in the adult and usually, although not always, with one or more ocelli on each side of the head.

In the British Provisional Atlas (Barber & Keay 1988) some 10 lithobiomorphs are all recorded at least once from sea shore sites. These include both the ubiquitous Lithobius forficatus (Linné, 1758) and also L. melanops Newport, 1845, a species also common in gardens and similar disturbed sites. None of the species, however, appear to be truly halophilic. Takano (1980) shows Lithobius ellipticus Takakuwa 1939 as intertidally recorded in his Fig. 4.

Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorLithobius ellipticus Takakuwa, 1939
Habitat: Shown as intertidally recorded by Takano (1980)
Japan
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorLithobius forficatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
Europe; Greenland; Iceland; Russia; USA; Brazil; St. Helena...
    = Scolopendra forficata Linnaeus, 1758 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorLithobius melanops Newport, 1845
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
Europe; Iceland; Canary Islands; Newfoundland; USA...
  

Order SCOLOPENDROMORPHA

Scolopendromorphs include the so called “giant centipedes” of the tropics as well as other species. Typically they have 21 or 23 leg pairs, are relatively short bodied and active and may be blind or have a four ocelli on each side.

Cryptops hortensis (Donovan, 1810) was listed as one of their species from shore sites by Barber & Keay (1988) but not as a true halophile, however Demange (1963) does describe what appears to be the first halophilic scolopendromorph, Campylostigmus plessisi from Nouvelle Caledonie.

Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorCampylostigmus plessisi Demange, 1963
New Caledonia
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorCryptops hortensis (Donovan, 1810)
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
Europe; Iberian Peninsula; North Africa; North Mediterranean...
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorScolopendra morsitans Linnaeus, 1758
India; Samoa; Somalia; Algeria
  

Order GEOPHILOMORPHA

Long bodied, blind species with numerous leg pairs (31 to more than a hundred) sometimes called wire-centipedes or wireworms.

Possibly up to nine families of this order contain apparently halophilic species and within these are 17 (probably more) genera containing halophilic species (Table 1). The total number of halophilic geophilomorphs recorded in a recent list (Barber, 2009) is 45. Most of these are from Europe, Western United States, the Caribbean, South America, Japan and Australia/New Zealand. There are few records from the Atlantic coast of USA or from Canada, very few African records and little from much of Asia other than Japan, Korea and Taiwan. It is highly improbable that there are no species occurring on these coasts. In addition it is possible that some species for which no habitat data is given (e.g. for California / Baja California, South Africa, New Zealand) may well be halophilic and also finding littoral species in some habitats (e.g. rock crevices) is not always easy. An estimate of 100 plus species from around the world seems reasonable. There are certainly reports in the literature of seashore centipedes where the species was not identified: Cape Verde Is, Galápagos, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica (Crossland, 1929, Polhemus & Evans, 1969). Probably there are as yet undescribed littoral species in collections and it is quite likely that some described species where habitat was not given may well be littoral.

Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorAphilodon maritimus Lawrence, 1963
South Africa
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorBallophilus riveroi Chamberlin, 1950
Habitat: One adult male, closely agreeing with Chamberlin's desc...
West Indies
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorCaritohallex minirrhopus Crabill, 1960
Habitat: Berlese sampling of beach debris, Sea Cow Bay, Tortola ...
West Indies
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorErithophilus neopus Cook, 1899
Habitat: Recorded without habitat data by Cook but L.A.Pereira (...
Florida
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus admarinus Chamberlin, 1952
Habitat: SE Alaska (Redd Bay): Numerous specimens taken under st...
Alaska
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus algarum Brölemann, 1909
Habitat: littoral zone, among algae
European waters (ERMS scope); France
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus algarum var. decipiens
France
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus becki Chamberlin, 1951
Habitat: Cabrillo Beach near San Pedro: under rocks and kelp at ...
California
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus carpophagus Leach, 1814
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
United Kingdom; Italy; Italy; Tunisia; Germany; Schleswig-Holstein...
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus flavus (De Geer, 1778)
Europe; Tristan da Cunha; Italy; Italy; Germany; Northern Europe...
    = Necrophloeophagus longicornis (Leach, 1814) (synonymy) 
    = Scolopendra flava De Geer, 1778 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus fucorum Brölemann, 1900
Habitat: Littoral zone. "Vit sur les greves et dans les cordons...
European waters (ERMS scope); Mediterranean Sea...
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus gracilis Meinert, 1870
Brittany; Ireland; England; Algeria; Chile; Greece
    = Geophilus fucorum seurati Brölemann, 1924 (synonym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus naxius Verhoeff, 1901
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
Greece; Greece; Greece; Greece
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus pusillifrater Verhoeff, 1898
England; Brittany; Bosnia and Herzegovina
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorGeophilus vittatus (Raffinesque, 1820)
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
United States
    = Geophilus deducens Chamberlin, 1909 (synonymy) 
    = Geophilus rubens Say, 1821 (synonymy) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorHenia bicarinata (Meinert, 1870)
Habitat: Recorded from both inland and littoral sites. "Espece l...
European waters (ERMS scope); Mediterranean Sea...
    = Scotophilus bicarinata Meinert, 1870 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorHenia vesuviana (Newport, 1844)
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
England; France; Central Europe; North Africa; Italy...
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorHydroschendyla submarina (Grube, 1872)
Habitat: Littoral zone at or below high water mark. Rock crevic...
European waters (ERMS scope); Channel Islands...
    = Geophilus submarinus Grube, 1872 (basionym) 
    = Schendyla submarina Grube, 1872 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorHydroschendyla submarina f. egregia Latzel, 1890
Habitat: Rock crevices.
Jersey
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorLionyx hedgepethi Chamberlin, 1960
Habitat: Near Dillon Beach, Marin County: under stones between t...
California
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorMecistocephalus manazurensis Shinohara, 1961
Habitat: Manazaru: seashore (Shinohara, 1961)
Japan
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorMecistocephalus satumensis Takakuwa, 1938
Habitat: Takano (1980) shows this intertidally from the Kanto re...
Japan
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorMixophilus indicus Silvestri, 1929
Habitat: Coiled within loose mud; found when searching for the p...
India
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorNyctunguis heathi (Chamberlin, 1909)
Habitat: Montery County: fairly common in some areas in crevices...
California
    = Pectiniunguis heathi Chamberlin, 1909 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorOrphnaeus brevilabiatus (Newport, 1845)
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
Angola; Australia; Cameroon; Central America; Japan...
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorPachymerium ferrugineum (C.L.Koch, 1835)
Scandinavia; Central Europe; Iberian Peninsula...
    = Geophilus ferrugineum C.L.Koch, 1835 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorPachymerium ferrugineum insulanum Verhoeff, 1902
Greece; Black Sea; Czech Republic; Spain
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorPectiniunguis albermarlensis Chamberlin, 1914
Habitat: Collected at Bahia Darwin, Cryptocarpus (1), Beach stra...
Galapagos Islands
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorPectiniunguis americanus Bollman, 1889
Habitat: Described from Pichilingue Bay, Gulf of California: ess...
Gulf of California; Florida; Mexico
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorPectiniunguis amphibius Chamberlin, 1923
Habitat: Danzante & Carmen Islands: below high tide mark and res...
Gulf of California
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorPectiniunguis bollmani Pereira, Foddai & Minelli, 1999
Habitat: Cayo Sombrero, State of Falcon; collected under inter-t...
Venezuela
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorPectiniunguis halirrhytus Crabill, 1959
Habitat: A number of records from under beach drift, some record...
Mexico; Florida
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorPectiniunguis krausi Shear & Peck, 1992
Habitat: Isla Santa Cruz; juvenile, intertidal. Other sites up t...
Galapagos Islands
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorPolycricus bredini (Crabill, 1960)
Habitat: Sea Cow Bay, Tortola; Berlese samplings of beach drift ...
West Indies
    = Lestophilus bredini Crabill, 1960 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorSchendyla monodi (Brolemann, 1924)
France; Spain
    = Brachyschendyla monodi Brolemann, 1924 (synonymy) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorSchendyla nemorensis (C.L.Koch, 1837)
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
Europe; North Africa; Nordrhein-Westfalen; Italy...
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorSchendyla peyerimhoffi Brolemann & Ribaut, 1911
UK; Brittany; Portugal; Morocco; Canary Islands; Ireland...
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorSchendylops virgingordae (Crabill, 1960)
Habitat: Virgin Gorda: Prickly Pear Island, Berlese samplings of...
Venezuela; Virgin Islands; Martinique
    = Schendylurus virgingordae Crabill, 1960 (synonymy) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorStenotaenia linearis (C.L.Koch, 1835)
Habitat: A terrestrial species, mostly synanthropic in Britain. ...Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
United Kingdom; Europe; Central Europe; Germany...
    = Clinopodes linearis Attems, 1929 
    = Geophilus linearis C.L.Koch, 1835 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorStigmatogaster dimidiata (Meinert, 1870)
Habitat: This species is either supralittoral or can be found in...
France; Algeria; Spain
    = Stigmatogaster dimidiata angusta Latzel, 1886 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorStigmatogaster subterranea (Shaw, 1789)
United Kingdom; Ireland; North West Europe; Central Europe...
    = Haplophilus subterraneus (Shaw, 1789) (synonymy) 
    = Scolopendra subterranea Shaw, 1789 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorStrigamia japonica (Verhoeff, 1935)
Japan; Ryukyu Islands; Kurile Islands; Taiwan; South Korea...
    = Scolioplanes japonicus Verhoeff, 1935 (synonymy) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorStrigamia maritima (Leach, 1817)
Habitat: Littoral zone: in shingle, under rocks, in crevices, et...
European waters (ERMS scope); British Isles...
    = Geophilus maritimus Leach, 1817 (basionym) 
    = Scolioplanes maritimus (Leach, 1817) (synonymy) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorThindyla littoralis (Kraus, 1954)
Peru
    = Litoschendyla littoralis Kraus, 1954 (basionym) 
    = Thindyla pacifica (Chamberlin, 1955) (synonymy) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTretecthus uliginosus (Porat, 1894)
Habitat: Under stones on a sandbank in the Bekolongo River near ...
Cameroon
    = Geophilus uliginosus von Porat, 1894 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba ashmoleorum Lewis, 1996
Habitat: Littoral zone; among basaltic outcrops, Shelly Beach.
Ascension; South Atlantic
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba japonicus (Fahlander, 1935)
Habitat: Described by Fahlander from Misaki: "im Littoralrand od...
Japan
    = Nesogeophilus japonicus Fahlander, 1935 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba kozuensis (Takakuwa, 1934)
Habitat: Although the original description fom Kozu lacked habit...
Japan
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba laticeps (Pocock, 1901)
Habitat: Given as under rocks at high tide level, rocks on sand,...
West Australia; Tasmania
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba littoralis (Takakuwa, 1934)
Habitat: Manazuru, seashore (Shinohara, 1961). Kanto Region, in...
Japan; Japan
    = Nesogeophilus littoralis Takakuwa, 1934 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba pallida (Jones, 1998)
Habitat: Silver gull nest, Penguin Island, Rockingham and coast ...
West Australia
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba poseidonis (Verhoeff, 1901)
Habitat: littoral zone
European waters (ERMS scope); Mediterranean Sea...
    = Clinopodes poseidonis (Verhoeff, 1901) 
    = Geophilus poseidonis Verhoeff, 1901 (basionym) 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba sudanensis (Lewis, 1963)
Sudan
    = Clinopodes poseidonis sudanensis Lewis, 1963 (synonymy) 
    = Tuoba poseidonis sudanensis Lewis, 1963 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba sydneyensis (Pocock, 1891)
New South Wales; New Caledonia; New Britain; Solomon Archipelago...
    = Algerophilus leptochilus Brolemann, 1931 
    = Geophilus sydneyensis Pocock, 1891 (basionym) 
    = Honuaphilus alohanus Chamberlin, 1926 
    = Tuoba curticeps Chamberlin, 1920 
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba tiosanus (Takakuwa, 1934)
Habitat: Although the original description fom Tyosi lacked habi...
Japan
  
Checked: verified by a taxonomic editorTuoba xylophaga (Attems, 1903)
Habitat: On dead bird, on seaweed washed ashore, supralittoral s...
New Zealand; New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone...
    = Geophilus xylophaga Attems, 1903 (basionym) 
  


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