genus of millipedes

Pneumodesmus newmani is a species of millipede that lived in the Paleozoic era. Its exact age is uncertain. 428 million years ago in the late Silurian was first suggested.[1][2] A later study suggested the early Devonian.[3]

Temporal range: Late Silurian/Early Devonian
Pneumodesmus newmani - MUSE.JPG
Reconstruction of Pneumodesmus newmani
Scientific classification
P. newmani
Binomial name
Pneumodesmus newmani
Wilson & Anderson, 2004 [1]

It is the first myriapod fossil, and the oldest known creature to have lived on land.[4] The single specimen was discovered in 2004 near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.[2]

Discovery and namingEdit

The fossil of P. newmani was found by Mike Newman. He is a bus driver and amateur palaeontologist from Aberdeen. The fossil was in a layer of sandstone rocks on the foreshore of Cowie, near Stonehaven.[5] The species was later called "newmani" in honour of its finder. The fossil is kept in National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.[6]


In the photograph above, you can see the back is covered with hard plates, and wispy slender legs. The animal is definitely segmented, and it is like, or related to, millipedes.[1]

Its cuticle has what look like openings or spiracles. These are part of a gas exchange system that would work in air. So P. newmani is thought to be the earliest documented arthropod with a tracheal system, and the first known oxygen-breathing animal on land.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Heather M. Wilson & Lyall I. Anderson (2004). "Morphology and taxonomy of Paleozoic millipedes (Diplopoda: Chilognatha: Archipolypoda) from Scotland". Journal of Paleontology. 78 (1): 169–184. doi:10.1666/0022-3360(2004)078<0169:MATOPM>2.0.CO;2.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Fossil find 'oldest land animal'". BBC News. 2004.
  3. Suarez, Stephanie E.; et al. (2017). "A U-Pb zircon age constraint on the oldest-recorded air-breathing land animal". PLoS ONE. 12 (6): e0179262. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0179262.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Fossil millipede found to be oldest land creature". CNN (from Reuters). 2004.
  5. "Pneumodesmus newmani Exhibition". Stonehaven Guide. Archived from the original on 2016-12-24. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  6. Selden, Paul & Read, Helen (2008). "The oldest land animals: Silurian millipedes from Scotland" (PDF). Bulletin of the British Myriapod & Isopod Group. 23: 36–37.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)