First true centipede discovered: this millipede has 1,306 legs – National Geographic

First true centipede discovered: this millipede has 1,306 legs - National Geographic

Scientists in Australia have discovered a new species of millipede that lives at a depth of 60 meters, has no eyes and moves at an altitude of 1,306 feet.

Animal researchers named omelips persephone, after Persephone, the Greek goddess and queen of the underworld. But these new invertebrates deserve a crown for another reason: they have the most legs of any animal on Earth, dead or alive.

It is a remarkable victory. The largest specimen of the new species, a female, was less than four inches long. However, she easily defeated the previous world record holder, plenipes, the millipede worm that is found near Silicon Valley in California and has 750 feet.

This means that E. Persephone According to a recent article in the trade magazine Scientific Reports It is the world’s first true centipede, although it is called in Dutch “million feet”. It does more justice to his English name: millipede It is a Latin word meaning “a thousand legs”.

Although the number of legs of the animal is unparalleled, the limit may not have been reached yet. (Read more about the discovery of the glowing millipede.)

Read also: We already knew that the platypus is special. Now it seems to give off light as well.

Many species of millipedes begin their lives with only eight legs. When their bodies shed and become more split or ringed, they can develop more and more legs, said study leader Paul Marek, who works as an expert on millipedes at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

“So maybe there is one that has more rings and legs. I find something like this unimaginable,” said Marek, who is also a National Geographic explorer.

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dig deep

In 2020, Marek colleagues led by Bruno Pozzato of Australia’s Macquarie University went to the Goldfields-Esperance to search for millipedes and other animals underground.

The area is famous for its gold and nickel deposits. Mining companies dig deep into the earth in search of their quest. The holes leave holes with a diameter of less than one and a half centimeters: they are large enough to reduce the “trap” of small animals living in such places. (Read more about the fossils of giant ancient millipedes found in Canada.)

Traps, pieces of PVC pipe filled with wet plant material and attached to nylon wire, sometimes remain underground for months. During that time, underground animals, such as millipedes, are attracted to tasty rotting plants, after which they can no longer escape.

This way Feng has a team too E. Persephone. Back in his lab in Virginia, Marek unwrapped the animal and then took high-resolution images under a microscope. In those pictures, he counted the number of body parts of the animal and put a numeric mark on all ten to prevent it from counting the legs twice. This resulted in the discovery of 1,306 separate parties.

But what do you do with all those legs? The team suspects that E. Persephone Thus able to move in eight different planes simultaneously.

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