The Caterpillar evolved its strange plump little “steps” from ancient crustaceans

It seems that caterpillars got their prolegs from ancient crustaceans. (Image credit: Javier Millán Photography/Getty Images)

Scientists have finally figured out where caterpillars get their extra sets of legs. It turns out that these plump little limbs descended from their crustacean ancestors more than 400 million years ago.

Insects have six legs, except when they don’t. Caterpillars – the larvae of butterflies and moths – have extra sets of limbs known as prolegs. So do the larvae and even the adults of a handful of other insects. These prolegs are an evolutionary mystery, and scientists have long struggled with how and why they got them.

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