A hierarchical classification of a group is the key to our collective understanding of life on Earth. Since Linnaeus, the delineations of groups at various levels and their positions in the hierarchy are based on shared (morphological) similarities, some of which may be symplesiomorphies in today's view. Many groups, however, such as the orders in the class Diplopoda, have remained stable since their introduction. Ongoing systematic research on a group leads to a significant increase of described species. Descriptions of taxa are modified, and consequently, taxon names and ranks change. While such name changes are often somewhat naively decried as a "bad habit" in modern taxonomy, it is important to remember that these modifications represent badly needed progress in the systematics of the organisms in question.

Nevertheless, name changes do hamper access to the legacy data in the literature, especially for inexperienced taxonomists. For the purpose of clarification, we offer a set of six tables delineating the current classification of the Diplopoda (Shelley, 2003), as well as highlighting the contributions of Attems, Brölemann, Pocock and Silvestri (cited in the Bibliography).

The current classification of the Diplopoda employs the following ranks:

Class Diplopoda  

Subclass Penicillata, Chilognatha     

Infraclass Pentazonia, Helminthomorpha        

Subterclass Colobognatha, Eugnatha           

Superorder Juliformia, Nematophora, Merocheta              

Order, indicated by the ending –ida, as in Spirobolida                 

Suborder, indicated by the ending –idea, as in Chordeumatidea                 

Infraorder, Polydesmoides, Oniscodesmoides, only in the order Polydesmida                    

Superfamily, indicated by the ending –oidea as in Polydesmoidea                       

Family, indicated by the ending –idae as in Glomeridae                          

Subfamily, indicated by the ening –inae, as in Chelodesminae                             

Tribe, indicated by the ending –ini as in SphaerotheriiniThe following tables are available as downloadable PDF files:

Tables 1, 2 and 3 are based on Shelley's (2003) "revised, annotated family-level classification" (Arthropoda Selecta, 11(3), 187-207). Tables 4, 5 and 6 are based on Hoffman's (1980) Classification of the Diplopoda (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Genève, 237pp). Tables 4, 5 and 6 are provided here for convenience and are not intended to suggest nomenclatorial actions. They do not contain complete synonymies, but merely list frequently used older taxon names and their current valid counterpart. In tables 4a, 5a, and 6a taxon names are arranged in alphabetical order of the currently used taxon names. In tables 4b, 5b, and 6b the taxa are arranged in alphabetical order of the synonyms.