Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography

A New Zealand species of the trans-Tasman centipede order Craterostigmomorpha (Arthropoda : Chilopoda) corroborated by molecular evidence

Gregory D. Edgecombe A C and Gonzalo Giribet B C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK.

B Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

C Corresponding authors. Email:,

Invertebrate Systematics 22(1) 1-15
Submitted: 23 July 2007  Accepted: 27 November 2007   Published: 18 March 2008


Craterostigmus tasmanianus Pocock, 1902, is the sole species in the centipede order Craterostigmomorpha and the focus of much phylogenetic research in Chilopoda. Originally named from Tasmania, Craterostigmus from New Zealand was first considered conspecific with Tasmanian samples based on external morphology, though recent anatomical studies have argued for a deep divergence between New Zealand and Tasmanian Craterostigmus, and a high-ranking taxonomic separation has been advocated. Unambiguous diagnostic nucleotide characters in nuclear ribosomal 18S and 28S rRNA genes as well as in the mitochondrial 16S rRNA, together with the significantly smaller size of New Zealand individuals, the arrangement of supernumerary Malpighian tubules, and patterns in leg spinosity, permit distinction of a New Zealand species, Craterostigmus crabilli, sp. nov. In addition, phylogenetic analysis of four markers (the aforementioned markers plus cytochrome c oxidase subunit I) suggests differentiation of C. tasmanianus from the New Zealand specimens. Combination of the nuclear ribosomal genes and mitochondrial 16S rRNA and COI sequences retrieves a geographic pattern within C. crabilli, sp. nov. in which geographic proximity is decoupled from closest affinities, although the 16S rRNA dataset alone shows more geographic structure. The genetic pattern observed, where among species diversity (for both mitochondrial markers) is equivalent to, or greater than, the within species diversity, is not consistent with a recent long-distance dispersal event, and a relictual Gondwanan distribution is the most plausible alternative.

Additional keywords: biogeography, Craterostigmus, Gondwana, molecular diagnosis, Tasmantia, Zealandia.


Joey Pakes and Jessica Baker produced most of the sequence data employed. Peter Johns (Canterbury Museum) kindly loaned Craterostigmus specimens collected by him over many years. Trevor Crosby and Grace Hall (New Zealand Arthropod Collection) facilitated study of collections in their care in Auckland. Bob Mesibov assisted with a spreadsheet for specimens measured at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and provided most of the Tasmanian specimens used for sequencing. Suzanne Bullock prepared the line drawings, Barbara Duperron painted the centipede in Fig. 4, and two referees provided helpful suggestions. Sarah Boyer (formerly MCZ, Harvard University) and Cyrille D’Haese (Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris) provided good company in the field. The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) arranged all permits and provided maps and field advice; Ian Millar at the Nelson DOC office deserves special thanks. Fieldwork was supported by a Putnam expedition Grant; this material is based upon work supported in part by the USA National Science Foundation under Grants 0236871 and DEB-0508789 to GG.


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Appendix 1.  Molecular voucher specimens and collecting information
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