Giant Pill Millipedes

The Field Museum

The Field Museum

This is Zoosphaerium villosum, from the diplopod order Sphaerotheriida, sometimes known as giant pill millipedes. These millipedes can roll into a ball when disturbed. In this coiled position, most sphaerotheriids reach the size of a cherry, a golf ball, or are as small as a pea. But this species from Madagascar can roll into a sphere the size of a baseball! When rolled-up, predators are unable to uncoil giant pill millipedes, since their armored plates lock together creating a sealed ball. A few giant pill millipede species are able to produce sound through stridulation during courtship, the only millipede taxa known to do this.

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  • Title: Giant Pill Millipedes
  • Location: Madagascar
  • Type: Preserved Specimen
  • Original Source: More object information
  • Rights: (c) Field Museum of Natural History - CC BY-NC