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The Arthropod Story Table of Contents   

Habitat and distribution

Throughout their evolution, arthropods have invaded new geographic areas and habitats.
  • The wingless fly is one of the very few land animals native to Antarctica, and at just one centimeter (less than ½ inch) long, it is also the largest!!

  • The crustacean Gammarus wilkitzkii makes a living on the underside of the Arctic ice pack, feeding on other crustaceans.

  • There are crabs that live more than a mile beneath the ocean surface in the harsh environment around hydrothermal vents. They make their livings in total darkness and can withstand intense pressure, severe temperatures, and the caustic chemicals that are characteristic of these vents.

  • The hands-down winner in the extreme altitude contest is a jumping spider species that lives almost seven kilometers (22,000 feet) above sea level on the snow-covered slopes of Mount Makalu (just east of Everest).

  • Scolopendra gigantea, the largest centipede species on Earth, lives in the Amazon of South America. It grows to over 30 cm (about a foot) long and hunts small mammals, lizards, and frogs!

  • The Melophorus ants of the Australian desert can withstand extreme heat — temperatures higher than 60 C (140 F)!


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Ecological niches


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