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The Bravest Little Millipede

Updated on April 7, 2017
TRACE FOSSIL OF MILLIPEDE TRAIL
TRACE FOSSIL OF MILLIPEDE TRAIL
MILLIPEDE
MILLIPEDE

A Brief Explanation

I'd like to share some amazing Paleozoic creatures with you based on several samples from my fossil collection, but in a nontraditional way; in short story form. As I wrote the story with the purpose to inform and inspire, it evolved into something more meaningful that everyone can determine for themselves. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!

 TRILOBITE FOSSIL (CALYMENE, CELEBRA)
TRILOBITE FOSSIL (CALYMENE, CELEBRA)
CALYMENE, CELEBRA SCAVENGING THE ANCIENT OCEAN FLOOR
CALYMENE, CELEBRA SCAVENGING THE ANCIENT OCEAN FLOOR
ORTHOCERAS POLISHED FOSSILS
ORTHOCERAS POLISHED FOSSILS
ORTHOCERAS ATTACK ON ORTHOCERAS
ORTHOCERAS ATTACK ON ORTHOCERAS
AMMONITE FOSSIL REVEALING INNER CHAMBERS
AMMONITE FOSSIL REVEALING INNER CHAMBERS
AMMONITE FOSSIL (DUFRENOY, JUSTINAE)
AMMONITE FOSSIL (DUFRENOY, JUSTINAE)
AMMONITE  (DUFRENOY JUSTINAE)
AMMONITE (DUFRENOY JUSTINAE)

The Story of the Bravest Little Millipede

There once was a little millipede who was the bravest of all millipedes. He lived during an amazing era on Earth best known for its explosion of life. The Devonian time period was so full of new life, it has been called the Age of Fish, Age of Forests, Age of Vertebrates and Age of Amphibians; just to name a few. The story begins, if you can imagine, over 400 million years ago. Nevertheless, there is much we can learn from the bravest little millipede.

One day, the bravest little millipede was fed up with the attacks imposed upon him and his species by the many varieties of ancient sea dwellers sharing his beloved habitat. To you and me, his enemies would be fascinating creatures to simply observe. But because of his meager size compared to the rest, to him, they were all beasts. Day after day, the sadness he felt became overwhelming as he observed his millimates being taken down by their foes. Whenever it happened, he was left feeling helpless only able to scamper under the sandy seafloor with the use of his three hundred legs. The most frightening threat came from the clamping claws of the eurypterid sea scorpions. They were the millipedes worst enemy and most ill-tempered. In his mind, it was a cruel twist of nature to be betrayed by a cousin arthropod, creatures like him with segmented bodies and jointed legs.

Even the larger species of arthropod trilobites unjustly preyed upon them. Though most of them were gentle creatures, a few of their species had adapted predator capabilities, like that of raptor birds. They became skilled swimmers obtaining speed and sharp vision. The harmless millipedes were defenseless against those types. All the ancient ocean beings referred to those trilobites as "lens-faces" because of their superior vision. Their eyes possessed multiple lenses which wrapped around their heads so they could find prey or spot predators with surround vision. If a threatening trilobite spotted an unsuspecting millipede, it seldom had ample time to escape. The millipedes were the simplest seafloor dwellers. They spent much of their day milling around busy feeding on decayed matter. They were at the bottom of the food chain and rarely a threat to others. Many of the trilobites occupied the same ocean parallel and competed for food and territory.

Yet another more random threat came from the cephalopods. They possessed large powerful tentacles and the biggest brains of all ocean creatures. First, there were the nautiloid cephalopods such as Orthoceras with their long straight shells. With the use of their muscular tentacles, they could crush the hard exoskeleton shells of most other animals. They could pluck just about anything out from the water world with amazing accuracy. No animal was safe from them so long as it was within their grasp. Later, their cousin ammonites came along. They had adapted a coiled shell and eventually dominated the ancient seas over their close straight shelled relatives. From the little millipede’s perspective, they were all a nasty sort. From a human's perspective, their fossil shells are most intriguing. They possess inner chambers of beautiful patterns and are even worn as jewelry with symbolic meaning.

All the bravest little millipede ever wanted to do was to carry out his role in the marine ecosystem alongside with his millimates. They did a good job of keeping the ocean floors clean. With the arrival of more and more newcomer organisms in the ancient ocean, he believed his kind would soon be extinguished unless something changed.

The bravest little millipede had never known of anything else than his marine world filled with other invertebrate creatures which lack a backbone. That was until the day the vertebrates showed up. The vertebrates were swift and agile, but worst of all, they were hungry for millipedes. Arriving first were the ostracoderm fish with sleek, slippery bodies possessing heavy armored plates layered over their upper torsos. The magnificent placoderms evolved thereafter. They wore interesting patterned, armored plates and a wide variation of lavish fins and spikes for added protection. Not only were they a marvel of nature, they were awesome predators as well. Unlike the ostracoderms, they had adapted jawbones and blades for teeth, some reaching impressive sizes. Dunkleoteus's were the T-Rexes of placoderms in the Devonian seas. They were an ornery bunch and the top predators with the ability to chomp down on any living creature in their time!

PECOPTERIS LEAVES OF PSARONIUS TREE
PECOPTERIS LEAVES OF PSARONIUS TREE
PSARONIUS TREE
PSARONIUS TREE
NEUROPTERIS LEAF OF MEDULLOSA TREE
NEUROPTERIS LEAF OF MEDULLOSA TREE
MEDULLOSA TREE
MEDULLOSA TREE
GRASS LIKE LEAVES OF LYCOPOD TREES
GRASS LIKE LEAVES OF LYCOPOD TREES
SECTION OF LYCOPOD TREE ROOT
SECTION OF LYCOPOD TREE ROOT
LYCOPOD TREES
LYCOPOD TREES

The little millipede was beside himself and searched deep inside his soul for a solution to his problem. He consulted with his millimates one by one. He arranged for a millisummit to convene a meeting of the milliminds. They brainstormed and discussed and debated for hours on end until finally they all agreed on a split decision. The majority of the million millipedes would remain in the ocean trenches and protect one another by using the millibuddy system. That was the beginning of millimarriages. The bravest little millipede was to lead a group out from the ocean waters and become the first creatures to ever explore land. Such a prospect was unheard of, but the bravest little millipede was no ordinary creature. Instinctively, his followers believed in his bravery and intelligence.

The day finally arrived for them to venture out from their beloved water world. The wise little millipede chose a location offshore which curved into a cool calm lagoon. It passed beyond the foamy breakwaters of the Rheic Ocean bordering the great continent of Gondwana. The bravest little millipede was the first one to pop out of the water and gaze his eyes upon the Devonian landscape. He took in his first breath of air, adapting the use of his special tube openings. The air was untarnished and crisp, with an aroma of prolific leaves mixed with a marvelous scent of decaying organic material. It wet his appetite briefly until his eyes were steered higher and higher along the trunk of an Archeopteris tree. Through the treetop canopy, he witnessed a light more powerful and brighter than he ever knew possible. He was captured momentarily by the shimmering streaks of light filtering through the branches and it gave him a comforting feeling he had chosen the right place to start a new life for him and his millimates.

The bravest little millipede snapped out of his daze and focused on his mission to crawl out of the water and onto the shore. He proceeded to lead the millitroop's first steps onto dry land. To their surprise, the ground was quite moist from the hothouse climate which recycled warm moist air on a continual basis and dripped it back to Earth. None of the millitroops knew quite what to expect from this new habitat. They all scurried into the underbrush for protection, all but the bravest one. He had set his sights up above, fascinated by the giant trees, some of which reached thirty meters into the sky. Archeopteris dominated the forest and provided shade that protected the pioneer millipedes from the heat and intense ultraviolet rays of the sun. Other midsize trees such as Medullosa and Psaronius sealed the shady environment; and ancient lycopod trees hovered near water pools. They had stepped into Earth's first forest thick with frond trees, wispy shrubs, spreading mosses, ferns and spiny herbaceous plants. It provided plenty of decaying nourishment for all the millipedes to eat and eat and eat. The bravest little millipede did just that and grew strong and healthy. The efforts and risks he had taken finally rewarded him and his millimates with the happy life they had so desperately sought.

Then one day, he looked up again at the light shining through the forest trees. His curiosity to know where it came from led him on another exploration. He decided to crawl up the bumpy trunk of Archeopteris to get closer to the light. Inch my inch he crept, gripping the coarse wood with his three hundred legs. When he finally reached the top, he never felt so alive. He thought the sky was the color of love. The light source made his heart beat with trepidation. As he looked down and out, the sprawl of the forest canopy reflected the color of his soul as far as his view allowed. He was glad he made the strenuous crawl up the giant tree and came to understand its lure.

Days past, weeks and months; life was good for him and his millimates. There was plenty of oxygen in the air, plenty of nourishment on the ground and the absence of predators was the bonus they all had longed for. Everyday of his life he climbed the giant Archeopteris tree to thank the powers that be. What began as the bravest little millipede’s original thoughts turned into words that transformed into action which ultimately created a new life for him and his kind! Ironically, of all the creatures that threatened his species very existence; his has survived the longest!

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    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 22 months ago from Essex, UK

      Well this must be the best biography of a fossil millipede ever! :) Glad it ended as it did, as the millipede is still here today and all those others who preyed upon it have gone. What's more of course the millipedes had their own spell of greatness - growing to huge size 300 million years ago!

      I am envious of your fossils Kathi, and I am glad to see this story has received the accolades it has from other writers. Best wishes, Alun

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Hello W.R., Thank you for the kind compliment. You're funny!

    • W.R. Shinn profile image

      W.R. Shinn 6 years ago

      Awesome! Thanks. Is our world that old? Wow! Sincerely, W.

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Oh thank you, that's a great compliment. I'm thinking about modifying it for a children's book! Bless you

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Kathi,

      I loved this! The combination of the fossils, the drawings, and the engaging story of the struggle for survival was just awesome! I wish I'd had this to read to my daughter when she was younger.

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Hi Jackie, Very nice to meet you! I'm sorry to learn of your brother's death. Wonder whatever happened to his collection? I love that kind of stuff! I'll be seeing you and look forward to reading your hubs! Smiles

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This was great and my oldest brother who passed away years ago that I am now older than, found things like these but he was mostly into the arrowhead and Indian things I have two or three and his were suppose to go to a museum after his death but I heard no more about them, but there was many, he did it for years, and reading your profile it seems we both were looking for escape coming here and found much more. I will be so interested to follow you and see all the wonderful things you have to say.

      Jackie

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Hi Chatkath, My name is Kathi too and when I was a little girl I begged my mother for a Chatty Cathy doll for Christmas and Birthdays, but never got her. Now I make her pay for it, isn't that horrible of me? lol, I see Colin is up to his match making again. Anybody he sends my way I trust has quality, character and, of course, something interesting to share. Nice to meet you. I can't wait to read your hubs too!

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      I am impressed fossillady! Colin said that I would be! Can't wait to visit the rest of your hubs! Thank you for sharing such awesome stuff.

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      well welcome to the hub sue, thanks for following me, i'll do the same for you and cant's wait to read your articles. thank you for the kind compliment ps thinking of editing millipede story more kid friendly for publishing! wish me luck

    • suegillespie profile image

      suegillespie 6 years ago

      OMG.....you are a very talented lady. I am now enthralled with your sites. I am now a follower! (PS. I am ALSO a teacher....new at "hubbing".....still learning.)

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      nicomp, Good question, many animals have adaptive gills for breathing in and out of water, the horseshoe crab is one example. Thanks for stopping by!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      How did the little guy go from breathing water to breathing air?

      This is a tiny point, but I do want to make it: adding the penny to the fossil photos is a great touch. The scale of fossils is often very difficult to grasp. Thanks for that!

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Yes, the fossil history sometimes drives my spirit into action! Glad we share an interest!

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      Fascinating hub! Fossil history is fascinating. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Thank you Damian and Vanocouver Gal! It was my pleasure!

    • profile image

      damian0000 6 years ago

      Wow!!

      What a really beautifl hub!

      If only there were more teachers like you --- there is a lot of love in this work and it is written in such an engaging but still informative way, i loved the pictures as well --- excellent work Fossillady :-)

    • VancouverGal profile image

      VancouverGal 6 years ago from Canada

      This hub is such a delight!

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      What can one say but that I am humbled by your top ten list! Oh, I know, I love you for that!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ...a hub subject like this deserves a famous epigramman top ten

      TOP TEN WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOUR HUB ON THE BRAVE LITTLE MILLIPEDE

      10. impressive

      9. novel

      8. ingenious

      7. original

      6. whimsical

      5. enthralling

      4. could delight the child in all of us

      3. but also educate the adult mind too

      2. this could be the basis for a children's book

      1. unique translation of a subject perhaps not known by too many people - and that makes you a creative anomaly!!!!!