Fieldwork in Costa Rica

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Sphaeriodesmid millipede from La Selva, Costa Rica (collected by J. Means)

Last week, Jackson Means and I were in Costa Rica collecting material for an NSF project. Overall the trip was successful and we collected lots of fresh material for RNA extraction and whole-body transcriptome sequencing. These data will be used to infer a phylogeny of millipedes, a group with ancient evolutionary relationships extending back at least 500 millions years ago!

The millipede pictured above is a member of the order Polydesmida (family Sphaeriodesmidae) that defends itself from predators by rolling up into a ball. This ability to roll into a protective ball, known as “volvation”, has evolved 4-5 times independently across the evolutionary tree of millipedes.

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When disturbed, Sphaeriodesmus tucks and rolls into a ball.

(Canon EOS 6D, MP-E 65 mm lens, 1x, 1/60s, f8.0)

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