Understanding Evolution

Conclusion: Evolution and the arthropod

The history of the arthropods is a stunning example of evolution on a grand scale. Here are some things you have seen:
  • Arthropods have diversified from their humble beginnings 500 million years ago. Some lineages, such as Opabinia and the trilobites, have gone extinct...

    Opabinia  trilobite

    But millions of arthropod species remain...

    pillbug  stomatopod  spider

    butterfly  centipede  Triops

  • The basic arthropod body layout has evolved into many forms and has been adapted for different functions...

    arthropod phylogeny

    However, despite their overwhelming success, the evolution of arthropods is still limited in some ways by characteristics inherited from their ancestors...

    Terrestrial arthropods don't get very big


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Opabinia fossil photo by Chip Clark, Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution; Butterfly photo provided by Christopher Christie; Triops photo © 1999 William Leonard; Centipede photo provided by T. W. Davies © California Academy of Sciences; Pillbug photo © 2004 Joyce Gross; Spider photo © 2003 O.Sanisidro; Stomatopod photo provided by Alden M. Johnson © California Academy of Sciences

Understanding Evolution © 2021 by The University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley, and the Regents of the University of California