DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Springtail (Folsomia candida). Springtails (Collembolans) are not considered to be insects by many authorities but are instead referred to as hexapods. The name springtail refers to the specialized jumping appendage (furcula) at the end of the abdomen. When the hexapod is undisturbed these appendages are turned forwards and held in position by a catch beneath the abdomen; but in case of alarm they are kicked forcibly downwards and backwards, jerking the body into the air. Springtails have remained anatomically unchanged for millions of years, and are considered living fossils. They are wingless. The antennae (upper right) are the main sense organs, as their eyes (red) are small and poorly developed. Springtails live mainly in leaf litter, and feed on decaying matter and are important in soil biology and soil ecology. Magnification x12 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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