RESOURCES: Hop With the Springtails

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Science  19 Mar 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5665, pp. 1741
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5665.1741e

Tiny but tough, springtails can endure some of Earth's most inhospitable environments: the slopes of Mount Everest, the recesses of caves, even Antarctica. Members of the group Collembola, the minuscule arthropods are not only some of the most abundant animals, they are among the oldest, with fossils dating back 400 million years. Catch up on springtail systematics with the Checklist of the Collembola of the World, created by Frans Janssens of the University of Antwerp in Belgium and colleagues. The taxonomic synopsis furnishes identification keys and distribution maps for families, genera, and species.

More than just a catalog, the site offers a quick tour of springtail ecology and anatomy. (The name springtail comes from a lever attached to the abdomen; triggering it can propel the animal more than 25 times its body length.) The gallery features photogenic species such as this silky Tetrodontophora bielanensis from Germany.

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