Wortopedes are exclusively faunal representatives of the Wormwort lineage. They no longer become sessile as adults, but they are not truly neotenic; adults are still female and they still have a great number of segments and thorns, the latter of which are articulated into a myriad of basic “legs”. The development of legs in the adult females was necessary, as they still retain a loss of mucus production for crawling in adulthood. They can also dig with their heads, mainly doing so to access buried water or detritus and to escape unfavorable conditions. With both young males and adult females being motile, Wortopedes have spread through land across even the most difficult terrain.
Wortopedes are too many in species and too little in obvious physical diversity to describe beyond general trends. Polar, temperate, and montane species forgo photosynthesis over the winter in favor of hibernating to avoid the cold deep underground. Species in especially dry regions, especially deserts, tend to mature more quickly as to reduce mucus usage and therefore water loss throughout their lives; however, males are still sparse in the driest parts of the desert, and it is the females that must seek them out near streams and oases instead. Nearly all external variation between species beyond slight color variation is in the number of segments in adult females, and even this can vary somewhat in a single species; it can be difficult to identify what species a given Wortopede is as a result.
Unlike their ancestor, Wortopedes do not atrophy their eyes, muscles, or nervous system in adulthood. However, the adult females do still gain extra segments, granting them their centipede-like appearance. They retain their sequential hermaphroditism, despite it not being necessary, thus they are male as juveniles and female as adults; however, the transition is slightly fuzzy, and there is a short period of time when they produce both eggs and sperm. This allows them to incidentally self-pollinate, which can be useful when times are tough. Young males take in female gametes through their spiracles and slowly secrete fertilized eggs in their mucus trails. When they reach 1/4 adult size, they begin to grow extra segments and transition to female.