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Amazing Feet: Centipede’s Genome Is Sequenced for First Time

An international team of more than 100 researchers has mapped the entire genome of the centipede for the first time, and they say the findings offer new insight into how life developed on our planet. The team found that the Strigamia maritima, a northern European centipede, has around 15,000 genes — some 7,000 fewer than a human. Centipedes are arthropods, a group of invertebrate animals that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans. Until now, the only class of arthropods not represented by a sequenced genome was the myriapods, which include centipedes and millipedes.

Ariel Chipman, senior co-author of the study and project leader at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Science, said the genetic sequencing data reveal how creatures transitioned from their original dwelling place in the sea to living on land. "The use of different evolutionary solutions to similar problems shows that myriapods and insects adapted to dry land independently of each other," Chipman said in a news release. The study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, also found that this centipede appears to have lost the genes encoding any of the known light receptors used by animals, and all genes controlling circadian rhythm, or the body clock.

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— Reuters and NBC News staff