First with more than 1000 legs • The register
Pedantic arthropod watchers can finally sleep at night, because scientists have discovered a centipede with more than 1,000 legs.
A dorsal view of the head and a ventral view of the gonopods of a male Eumilipes persephone. Photo: Marek et al, Nature Scientific Reports (Click to enlarge)
Standing at 750 legs, the previous record for the number of limbs attached to nightmarish undergrowth caterpillars meant that there was a horrific mismatch between common nomenclature and morphology, which many supporters of the truth would, understandably, find. a little too much to bear.
nature Scientific reports this week published the work of Paul Marek, associate professor in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech, and his collaborators – who discovered the centipede 60 meters underground in a borehole created for mineral exploration in the mining area of the province of Eastern Goldfields in south and east-central Australia.
The charming creature has 1,306 legs, the researchers concluded after finding four members of the new species. To accommodate this number of appendages, underground creatures have filiform bodies measuring 95.7mm long and 0.95mm wide divided into 330 segments.
To add to the appeal, they are eyeless, have short legs, and a cone-shaped head with antennae and a beak.
The researchers chose to name their new scientific discovery Eumilipes persephone after the Greek word eu- (true), the Latin words mille (mille) and pes (foot), and refer to the Greek goddess of the underworld, Persephone.
The first true centipede – at 1,306 legs long … Photo: Marek et al, Nature Scientific Reports (Click to enlarge)
There are 70 species of centipedes, which can be found on every continent except Antarctica (so far!). Some family members take care of their eggs, some ooze chemical defenses containing alkaloids which are sequestered by poisonous frogs, and some may be known to curl into a ball for protection.
The previous record holder for the number of legs on an animal was the Californian centipede, Illacme plenipi. The boffins said the large number of segments and legs that have evolved in both species can help them push with a force needed to get this far underground and help them move through narrow openings into their preferred habitat. .
A ventral view of a man’s legs Eumilipes persephone. Photo: Marek et al, Nature Scientific Reports (Click to enlarge)
The province of Eastern Goldfields, where the new species was found, may be rich in biodiversity, but it also attracts human burrowers in the form of mining companies that extract gold, nickel and platinum from worth billions of dollars to the Australian economy.
The researchers suggest that the miners should try to conserve the region’s underground habitat to ensure the continued existence of their unique find.
“Discovered in the resource-rich Goldfields-Esperance region, [it is] Threatened by encroachment from surface mining, documenting this species and conserving its habitat is of critical importance, “the researchers warned. ®