Geophilomorph centipedes in the Mediterranean region: revisiting taxonomy opens new evolutionary vistas
Geophilomorph centipedes (Geophilomorpha) are represented in the Mediterranean region by almost 200 species, 77 % of which are exclusive. Taxonomy and nomenclature are still inadequate, but recent investigations are contributing to a better understanding of the evolutionary differentiation of this group in the region. Since 2000, identity has been clarified for ca. 40 nominal taxa, and unexpected evidence has emerged for the existence of three well-distinct lineages that had remained unrecognised before. Of these, Eurygeophilus has evolved an unusually stout body and needle-like forcipules, and the vicariant pattern of its two species is peculiar in encompassing both the Pyrenees and the Corsica Sardinia microplate; Diphyonyx has evolved unusually pincer-like leg claws, convergent to those originated independently in two different unrelated geophilomorph lineages; Stenotaenia has maintained a very uniform gross morphology, while differentiating widely in body size and number of trunk segments. The fauna of the Mediterranean region is representative of most major lineages of the Geophilomorpha, and the almost exclusive Dignathodontidae exhibit a remarkable morpho-ecological radiation in the region. Essential to a better understanding of the regional evolutionary history of these centipedes will be assessing the actual species diversity within many of the already recognised lineages, and reviewing in a phylogenetic perspective the nominal taxa currently referred to the composite genera Geophilus and Schendyla.
Geophilomorpha, diversity, faunal composition, morphological evolution, taxonomic revision