The name Protura comes from the Greek words protos, meaning "first" and oura, or "tail." In Europe, Proturans are called telson tails. "Telson" is simply another word meaning "end," or tail, referring to the end segment of a proturan. The Italian scientist Antonio Sylvestri first discovered them in leaf litter in 1907 near Syracuse, New York. Since then they have been found throughout the world and are among the most abundant arthropods living in soil and leaf litter. Leaf litter samples collected in the eastern forests of North America sometimes have as many as 150 individual proturans, representing several different species.
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