First “real” millipede discovered

Status: 16.12.2021 8:51 p.m.

It is the first representative of its kind to be more than precise with its name: Researchers have discovered the first “real” centipede in Australia. And it even comes to more than 1,300 feet – a record in the animal world.

The millipede has been around the earth since ancient times. It is even one of the first animals to breathe. But so far the representatives of this genus have cheated a bit – none of them came close to the thousand feet that gave it its name. But now researchers in Australia have discovered the first “real” millipede.

And that even exceeds the requirement: the scientists counted 1,306 feet on the body of the arthropod that appeared, said researcher Paul Marek from Virginia Tech University. All centipedes discovered previously came to a maximum of 750 feet. The newcomer thus holds the absolute record in the well-known fauna: No other animal has more feet.

Animal record holder: No other animal in the world has as many feet as the new millipede.

Image: via REUTERS

A divine namesake

The record holder was discovered in western Australia: in a borehole. It was hidden 60 meters below the surface of the earth. Its habitat also influenced its naming: Eumillipes persephone – after the Greek goddess of the underworld Persephone.

According to researchers, the centipede looks like a string: it is ten centimeters long, has a colorless body, a conical head and “huge antennae”. It does not have eyes, which is typical for species whose habitat is so deep underground. If it stretches out, Eumillipes persephone gets into the narrowest crevices, with its more than a thousand feet helping to move forward.

According to the insect expert Andre Nel, such mini-cavities are a previously little-known habitat. New species are often discovered there. Like its conspecifics, the “real” millipede also plays an important role in the ecosystem. The animals eat rubble and can reuse nutrients.

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