Emmanuel Vega-Román1, 2 Víctor Hugo Ruiz2 & Patricia Arancibia-Ávila3

1Programa de Doctorado en Educación en Consorcio, Universidad del Bío Bío, Chillán, Chile. Email: — ORCID iD:

2Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile — ORCID iD:

3Magister Enseñanza de las Ciencias y Magister Ciencias Biológicas, Departamento de Ciencias Básicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad del Bío Bío, Chillán, Chile. — ORCID iD:



The Order Scolopendromorpha in Chile is represented by the families Cryptopidae and Scolopendridae, comprehending the genera Cryptops Leach, 1815 and Akymnopellis Shelley, 2008, respectively. Before the year 2008, the genus Akymnopellis, was known to have a geographic distribution area from Atacama through Valdivia. A broader distribution of the genus was reported later. This study reports, the first insular record, new continental records, and a broader geographic area of distribution for the genus in the country. An identification key is provided for species of the genus Akymnopellis.

Key words: Akymnopellis; new records; area of distribution; Chile.



El género Akymnopellis Shelley, 2008 (Chilopoda, Scolopendromorpha, Scolopendridae) en Chile

El orden Scolopendromorpha en Chile está representado por las familias Cryptopidae y Scolopendridae, conteniendo a los géneros Cryptops Leach, 1815 y Akymnopellis Shelley, 2008, respectivamente. Hasta el 2008 la distribución conocida del género Akymnopellis se extendía desde Atacama a Valdivia. Sin embargo, estudios posteriores indican una distribución del género más amplia. Nuestros resultados muestran el primer registro insular, nuevos registros continentales y una ampliación del rango de distribución del género en el país. Se entrega una clave de identificación para las especies del Género Akymnopellis.

Palabras clave: Akymnopellis; registros; área de distribución; Chile.


Recibido/Received: 16/10/2017; Aceptado/Accepted: 16/01/2018; Publicado en línea/Published online: 09/04/2018

Cómo citar este artículo/Citation: Vega-Román, E., Ruiz, V. H. & Arancibia-Ávila, P. 2018. The genus Akymnopellis Shelley, 2008 (Chilopoda, Scolopendromorpha, Scolopendridae) in Chile. Graellsia, 74(1): e067.

Copyright: © 2018 SAM y CSIC. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License.




Chilopods within the Order Scolopendromorpha have a worldwide distribution and are active and agile predators (Edgecombe & Giribet, 2007; Vega-Román et al., 2014; Chiarello, 2015). Taxonomy of the Order Scolopendromorpha is based upon the number of locomotor appendages and the presence or absence of ocelli. According to that, chilopods of the Order Scolopendromorpha can be classified into five families: Cryptopidae, Mimopidae, Plutoniumidae, Scolocryptopidae, and Scolopendridae (Giribet, 2015).

In Chile, the Order Scolopendromorpha is represented by the families Cryptopidae with the genera Cryptops Leach, 1815 and Scolopendridae, with the genera Akymnopellis Shelley, 2008. The latter, in turn, is represented by the species Akymnopellis chilensis (Gervais, 1847), A. laevigata (Porat, 1876), and A. platei (Attems, 1903). These species can be differentiated by the superposition of the cephalic plate to tergite 1, the spinal arrangement in the terminal appendages, and the presence of a transverse suture in tergite 20 (Shelley, 2008).

The latest revision of the genus (Shelley, 2008) reports that Akymnopellis is geographically distributed in Chile from Atacama through Valdivia. Posteriorly, Vega-Román et al. (2014) expanded the southern range to Torres del Paine, Provincia de Ultima Esperanza, Chile. Therefore, the objective of this study is to establish a new range of distribution of Akymnopellis in Chile, based on published information and upon a revision of the reported distribution of the specimens of the chilopod collection of the Museum of Zoology at the University of Concepción (MZUC-UCCC). Furthermore, this study adds new information recorded from specimens collected from different areas of the country by the first author of this paper.

Materials and methodsTOP

Information about Akymnopellis in Chile was done through a thorough literature search. Individual specimens deposited in the Museum of Zoology at the University of Concepción (MZUC-UCCC) and from the personal collection of the authors were also reviewed.

Taxonomical analyses were performed for each specimen; the diagnostic characteristics were taken from the works of Chamberlin (1955), Shelley (2008), and Vega-Román & Ruiz (2014). Every individual specimen was observed using stereoscopic microscopy and its taxonomical characteristics were analyzed using specific classification keys. Finally, new specimens collected by the authors were deposited in the Museum of Zoology at the University of Concepción (MZUC-UCCC).

The following codes were adopted: NR: New Record; ARD: Expanded Distribution Range; IND: Undetermined.


The study by Shelley (2008) included the records of Gervais (1847), Silvestri (1899, 1905), Porter (1912), Chamberlin (1955) and Bucherl (1974). The present study additionally includes the records of Vega-Román et al. (2014) (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1.— Locations where Akymnopellis species have been registered in South America: A. platei = ▲, A. laevigata = ●, A. chilensis = ★. Modified from Shelley (2008).
Fig. 1.— Localidades sudamericanas con citas de especies de Akymnopellis: A. platei = ▲, A. laevigata = ●, A. chilensis = ★). Modificado de Shelley (2008).


Based on the specimens review and the literature survey, the distribution range of the genus Akymnopellis can be establish from the Niebla Oasis in La Chimba (Antofagasta Region) to the Torres del Paine National Park (Provincia de Ultima Esperanza) (Table 1).

Table 1.— New records and expanded distribution range for the species A. chilensis and A. platei in Chile. Location and number of reviewed specimens are included. The total number of specimens recorded in the Table is 36. Codes: NR = New Record; ARD = Expanded Distribution Range; IND = Undetermined.
Tabla 1.— Nuevos registros e incremento del area de distribución de Akymnopellis chilensis and A. platei en Chile. Se incluyen la localidad y el número de ejemplares revisados (36). Abreviaturas: NR = Nuevo registro; ARD = ampliación del rango de distribución; IND = sin determinar.
Species Location Collection date N° spec.  
A. chilensis Bio-Bío Province. Villa Peluca (near Antuco). 03-07-2011 2 NR
A. chilensis Santiago Province. Santiago, El Cepillo Gorge. 25-07-2000 1 NR
A. chilensis Talca Province. Constitución. 12-06-2012 2 NR
A. chilensis Bio-Bío Province. Polcura. 20-12-2012 1 NR
A. chilensis Concepción Province. Lirquén, La Huasca Hill. 05-02-2011 1 NR
A. chilensis Arauco Province. Raqui 063 1962/587 6531. 21-09-2011 1 NR
A. chilensis Concepción Province. Lirquén, La Huasca Hill. 11-09-2010 3 NR
A. chilensis Concepción Province. University district. 12-11-2010 1 NR
A. chilensis Concepción Province. Lirquén, Rahue Hill. 26-06-2010 1 NR
A. chilensis Malleco Province. Angol, Nahuelbuta Range. 17-06-1962 2 NR
A. chilensis Malleco Province. Angol, Nahuelbuta Range. 18-08-1962 3 NR
A. chilensis Malleco Province. Angol, Nahuelbuta Range. 15-07-1968 4 NR
A. chilensis Torres del Paine National Park. Vega-Román et al. (2014) 2 -
A. platei Antofagasta Province, Cachimal de la Costa. 24-07-1964 2 ARD
A. platei La Chimba National Reserve. 30-10-2009 1 ARD
A. platei Concepción Province. Lirquén, Rahue Hill. 25-06-2010 1 ARD
A. platei Concepción Province, Hualpén. 06-10-2004 1 ARD
IND. Atacama Province, Lomas de Huasco. 24-07-1964 2 ARD
IND. 52 Km from Rancagua, near the hydroelectric dam. 25-08-2011 1 -
IND. Atacama Province. Huasco Beach. 18-12-1963 1 -
IND. Concepción Province, Quiriquina Island. 22-11-1969 2 -
IND. Concepción Province. Escuadrón. 18-02-1973 1 -

Twelve new records were obtained for A. chilensis and four records for A. platei. Given that, the distribution of the latter is expanded to Cachimal de la Costa in the Antofagasta province (North of Chile) and to the town of Hualpén in the Biobío province (South of Chile). Specimens of A. chilensis kept their known distribution. Specimens of A. laevigata were not found. Seven specimens could not be identified at the species level, all of which were considered as indeterminate. The specimens collected at Quiriquina Island become the first insular record of the Order Scolopendromorpha in Chile (Table 1).

Identification key for Scolopendromorpha families and species of the genus Akymnopellis in Chile

1. Adults with 19 to 21 pairs of legs (including terminal legs); with or without ocelli 2
With 23 pairs of legs (including terminal legs); without ocelli Family Scolopocryptopidae
2. With ocelli on cephalic plate (Fig. 2A) Family Scolopendridae. Akymnopellis spp. 3
Without ocelli on cephalic plate (Fig. 2B) Family Cryptopidae; Cryptops spp.
3. Tergite 21 with mid-dorsal suture (Fig. 2C) 4
Tergite 21 without longitudinal mid-dorsal suture (Fig. 2D) A. chilensis (Gervais, 1847)
4. Prefemur of the last pair of legs is strongly sclerotized (Fig. 2E) A. platei (Attems, 1903)
Prefemur of the last pair of legs is slightly sclerotized (Fig. 2F) A. laevigata (Porat, 1876)


The species A. laevigata is widely distributed throughout South America with records in Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, French Guiana, Venezuela, Colombia, and Chile (Shelley, 2008), while A. chilensis and A. platei have only been registered in Argentina and Chile. Based on the literature search and collection specimens observations, the last two species are widely distributed in Chile, ranging from the Antofagasta Region to Torres del Paine National Park in the Provincia of Ultima Esperanza (Vega-Román et al., 2014). Vega-Román et al. (2014) erroneously locates Torres del Paine in the Magallanes Region, whereas administratively and geographically belongs to the Provincia of Ultima Esperanza in Chile.

Fig. 2.— Morphological characteristics for species determination of the genus Akymnopellis in Chile. A) Lateral ocelli on the cephalic plate. B) Absence of ocelli on the cephalic plate. C) Dorsal view. Tergite 21 with longitudinal mid-dorsal suture. D) Dorsal view. Tergite 21 without longitudinal mid-dorsal suture. E) Ventral view. Last pair of legs is strongly sclerotic, with spines on the inner side. F) Ventral view. Last pair of legs is slightly sclerotic, with no spines on the inner side. Modified from Shelley (2008).
Fig. 2.— Características morfológicas para la determinación de las especies del género Akymnopellis en Chile. A) Ocelli laterales en la placa cefálica. B) Ausencia de ocelli en la placa cefálica. C) Terguito 21 con sutura medio-dorsal longitudinal. D) Terguito 21 sin sutura medio-dorsal longitudinal. E) Vista ventral. Último par de patas muy escletorizadas, con espinas en la cara interna. F) Vista ventral. Último par de patas ligeramente escletorizadas, sin espinas en la cara interna. Modificado de Shelley (2008).


The absence of records in the north of Chile could be explained by the unfavorable conditions of the desert environment for chilopods. The desert could be a geographical barrier for species of the genus Akymnopellis and for other species of the Order Scolopendromorpha. On the other hand, several species of the order Scolopendromorpha present peculiarities which allow them to resist desiccation and high temperatures in the arid zones of the world (Khana, 2005; Webber & Graham, 2013). Therefore, some other factor or factors might explain why the species has not been found in the north of Chile.

Individuals of A. laevigata have records only in the North-Central Zone of Chile (Copiapó, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Quilpué, Coquimbo, Los Vilos, Zapallar, Aconcagua, and Santiago) (Shelley, 2008). This limited distribution, as well as the low amount of records could be due to a scarce sampling effort and the incipient research about these kinds of arthropods in Chile. Vega-Román et al. (2011) indicate that the bibliographical list for our country considering these arthropods contains no more than 30 publications from 1847 to 2011; which averages only one publication every six years. The Museum of Zoology at the University of Concepción (MZUC-UCCC) currently holds a unique collection with copies of all Chilopoda orders registered in Chile until 2017 (Vega-Román et al., 2017); once again demonstrating the lack of knowledge of the group in the country. This situation leads to the underestimation of the actual distributions and records of the species.

These arthropods are generally found in the soil and humus (therefore considered edaphic and humic inhabitants) of areas with great vegetation coverage (Palacios & Vargas et al., 2007). However, there are also records of myriapods in urban areas, and some species are considered synanthropic (Cupul-Magaña, 2016; Giurginca et al., 2016); therefore, the distribution of these species might not necessarily be related to any specific vegetation structure.

This study contributes towards clarifying the distribution of the genus Akymnopellis in Chile. New localities are reported, the range of distribution is increased and an identification key for species of the genus Akymnopellis in Chile is provided.



The authors would like to thank to the staff of the Museum of Zoology of the University of Concepcion (MZUC-UCCC) and especially to Dr. Jorge Artigas for loan of the MZUC-UCCC material. Emmanuel Vega-Román was supported by a doctoral fellowship from the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) CONICYTPCHA/Doctorado Nacional/2017-2171666. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank Mr. Rodolfo Caro-Barbieri for assistance at various stages of the project financed by Dirección de Posgrado, Universidad del Bío-Bío, Chile.



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