Gonopods are specialized appendages of various arthropods used in reproduction or egg-laying. In males, they facilitate the transfer of sperm from male to female during mating, and thus are a type of intromittent organ. In crustaceans and millipedes, gonopods are modified walking or swimming legs. Gonopods may be highly decorated with elaborate structures which may play roles in sperm competition, and can be used to differentiate and identify closely related species. Gonopods generally occur in one or more pairs, as opposed to the single (un-paired) reproductive organs such as the aedeagus of insects or the penis of harvestmen.
In insects, gonopods are appendages of the genital segment that may be used in insemination, or that comprise the egg-laying apparatus.
In male decapod crustaceans, gonopods are modified swimming appendages (pleopods). The anterior two pair of pleopods in males are modified for sperm transferring, with differing degree of morphological diversification.
In millipedes, gonopods consist of one or two pairs of often highly modified walking legs in mature males, and are primarily found in members of the subgroup Helminthomorpha—containing most orders and the vast majority of species—where they are located on the seventh body segment consisting of leg pairs 8 and/or 9.Males of the subgroup Pentazonia (which includes the Oniscomorpha (pill millipedes) and Glomeridesmida) lack gonopods but possess enlarged appendages known as telopods at the rear of the body used to firmly hold females during mating. The complex structure of gonopods is a primary method of distinguishing closely related species of millipede, although the terminology used to describe the same structures may vary between authors. The complex morphology of millipede gonopods may be driven by sperm competition or other forms of sexual selection, with some structures serving to scoop out or displace sperm of other males, and others acting to stimulate females into becoming sexually receptive.
Millipede gonopods do not produce sperm directly, but rather gather sperm produced from a gonopore on the base of the third body segment.
Gonopods develop gradually during the growth of an individual. In early developmental stages, all legs are of the walking type, and cannot be used to determine sex. Through successive molts, the walking legs metamorphose into mature gonopods.
|Order||Number of pairs of |
|Leg pair(s) modified!||Notes|
LP = Leg pair
|Callipodida||1||8th||LP9 is reduced|
|Chordeumatida||2||8th & 9th||Gonopods and other accessory mating legs vary within the four suborders: In Chordeumatidea LP9 sperm-transferring, LP10 is reduced, and LP11 possess coxal glands; in Heterochordeumatidea LP9 sperm-transferring, LP10 reduced, and both LP10 and LP11 with coxal gland; in the Craspedosomatidea and Striariidea, LP8 sperm-transferring, LP9 modified, LP10 and LP11 with coxal glands|
|Glomerida||2 (telopods)||Not involved with sperm transfer, only clasping females|
|Julida||2||8th & 9th||LP9 sperm-transferring|
|Platydesmida||2||9th & 10th||Leg-like; LP 9 sperm-transferring|
|Polyzoniida||2||9th & 10th||leg-like; LP 9 sperm-transferring|
|Siphonocryptida||2||9th & 10th||leg-like, LP 9 sperm-transferring|
|Siphonophorida||2||9th & 10th||leg-like; LP 9 sperm-transferring|
|Spirobolida||2||8th & 9th||LP9 sperm-transferring, LP8 fused into single structure.|
|Spirostreptida||2||8th & 9th||LP8 sperm-transferring|
|Stemmiulida||1||8th||LP8 sperm-transferring; LP9 reduced|
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Pedipalps are the second pair of appendages of chelicerates – a group of arthropods including spiders, scorpions, horseshoe crabs, and sea spiders. The pedipalps are lateral to the chelicerae ("jaws") and anterior to the first pair of walking legs.
Isopoda is an order of crustaceans that includes woodlice and their relatives. Isopods live in the sea, in fresh water, or on land. All have rigid, segmented exoskeletons, two pairs of antennae, seven pairs of jointed limbs on the thorax, and five pairs of branching appendages on the abdomen that are used in respiration. Females brood their young in a pouch under their thorax.
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In invertebrate biology, an appendage is an external body part, or natural prolongation, that protrudes from an organism's body. An appendage is any of the homologous body parts that may extend from a body segment. These include antennae, mouthparts, gills, walking legs (pereiopods), swimming legs (pleopods), sexual organs (gonopods), and parts of the tail (uropods). Typically, each body segment carries one pair of appendages.
The decapod crustacean, such as a crab, lobster, shrimp or prawn, is made up of 20 body segments grouped into two main body parts, the cephalothorax and the pleon (abdomen). Each segment may possess one pair of appendages, although in various groups these may be reduced or missing. They are, from head to tail:
The arthropod leg is a form of jointed appendage of arthropods, usually used for walking. Many of the terms used for arthropod leg segments are of Latin origin, and may be confused with terms for bones: coxa, trochanter, femur, tibia, tarsus, ischium, metatarsus, carpus, dactylus, patella.
Harpaphe haydeniana, commonly known as the yellow-spotted millipede, almond-scented millipede or cyanide millipede, is a species of polydesmidan ("flat-backed") millipede found in the moist forests along the Pacific coast of North America, from Southeast Alaska to California. The dark coloration with contrasting yellow-tipped keels warn of its ability to exude toxic hydrogen cyanide as a defense. Despite the various common names given the species, the coloration pattern, cyanide defense, and associated almond scent occur in other flat-backed millipedes around the world.
Spirobolida is an order of "round-backed" millipedes containing approximately 500 species in 12 families. Its members are distinguished by the presence of a "pronounced suture that runs "vertically down the front of the head". Most of the species live in the tropics, and many are brightly coloured. Mature males have two pairs of modified legs, the gonopods, consisting of the 8th and 9th leg pair: the posterior gonopods are used in sperm-transfer while the anterior gonopods are fused into a single plate-like structure.
Mammamia profuga is a species of cave-dwelling millipede in the family Julidae. The only known species of the genus Mammamia, it was described in 2011 from a specimen discovered in a cave in Italy.
Motyxia is a genus of cyanide-producing millipedes that are endemic to the southern Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi, and Santa Monica mountain ranges of California. Motyxias are blind and produce the poison cyanide, like all members of the Polydesmida. All species have the ability to glow brightly: some of the few known instances of bioluminescence in millipedes.
Polyxenida is an order of millipedes readily distinguished by a unique body plan consisting of a soft, non-calcified body ornamented with tufts of bristles – traits that have inspired the common names "bristly millipedes" or "pincushion millipedes". There are at least 86 species in four families worldwide, and are the only living members of the subclass Penicillata.
Callipodida is an order of millipedes containing around 130 species, many characterized by crests or ridges.
Orthomorpha coarctata, the long-flange millipede, is a widely introduced species of Polydesmidan millipede of the family Paradoxosomatidae. It is presumed native to Southeast Asia but due to transport by humans occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas throughout the world, including the Hawaiian Islands, the West Indies, Gulf Coast of North America, and the Galápagos Islands.
Cowiedesmus is an extinct millipede genus known from the middle Silurian of Scotland, and is one of the earliest known land animals. Cowiedesmus was about 4 cm (1.6 in) long and characterized by a greatly enlarged pair of legs on the 8th segment which may have been used in clasping females or functioned as gonopods. Coweiedesmus is distinct enough from other living and fossil millipedes to be placed in its own order, Cowiedesmida. The only known species, C. eroticopodus, was described in 2004.
The Archidesmida is an extinct order of millipedes known from fossils from the Devonian period of Europe and North America. Archidesmidans have broad flat keels (paranota) extending from their body segments, and a modified pair of legs on the 8th segment that may have been involved in mating, similar to the gonopods of living millipedes which insert sperm into females. Alternately, the modified legs may have been used to grasp onto partners during mating.
Brachycybe (Greek for "short head") is a genus of andrognathid millipedes with species in the United States and East Asia. In a rare example of paternal care in invertebrates, males of most species guard the eggs until they hatch.
Juliformia is a taxonomic superorder of millipedes containing three living orders: Julida, Spirobolida, and Spirostreptida, and the extinct group Xyloiuloidea known only from fossils. The species possess long cylindrical bodies with sclerites fused into complete rings. Juliform millipedes possess defensive repugnatorial glands on all body segments except the last few, and are the only known millipedes to produce quinones in their defensive secretions. Juliform males have two pairs of gonopods consisting of the modified 8th and 9th pair of legs: in Julida and Spirobolida the posterior gonopods are primarily involved in sperm-transferring, while in Spirostreptida it is the anterior gonopods. Juliformians also lack Tömösváry organs and have a large collum which overhangs the rear of the head.
Ammodesmidae is a family of small millipedes endemic to Africa, containing seven species in two genera. Ammodesmids range from 1.4 to 5.0 mm long with 18 or 19 body segments in both sexes, and are capable of rolling into a tight sphere.
Boreohesperus is a genus of paradoxosomatid millipedes containing six species native to Western Australia. The name refers to the northwestern distribution in Australia, deriving from Boreas, Greek god of the North, and hesperus, Latin for "west".