For the first time, a group of researchers studied some specimens of a new species of millipede that lives about 60 meters deep in the Australian subsoil and has much more legs than those of previously known species. Despite what the name suggests, in fact, no centipede so far observed had actually had a thousand “feet”, but at most 750: the specimen with the largest number of legs among those recently discovered and described in one studio Published Thursday in the magazine Scientific Reports It has more than 1,300, almost double.
The new species was called omelips persephone, where “eumillipes” means “real centipede” e Persephone It refers to the deities of Greek mythology who live underground in the winter months.
First example of omelips persephone It was observed in August 2020 by biologist Bruno Pozzato, who works for an environmental consulting firm in Western Australia. Buzatto found it during some studies to assess the impact of mining activities on life underground. He noticed that the millipede is a few centimeters long but more than a millimeter thinner and somewhat reminiscent of a variety of pasta known as angel hair. He was light in color and had no eyes, but a lot of legs – things that immediately made him think he was related to the species. plenipes, meaning that the millipede with the largest number of legs had never been observed until that moment, as well as the organism known as the largest number of legs on Earth.
Pozzato then sent the pictures and some information to Paul Marek, an entomologist at Virginia Tech who studied Elacme plenipes. Then he went to work to find more.
The first count of the eight millipedes retrieved underground showed that one had more than 800 feet: a record number compared to species known up to that point, but still a tentative estimate, given that some millipedes develop new legs even at a later stage. Puberty. ..
After new analyzes were carried out in the University of Virginia lab, it turned out that the specimen with the largest legs was a female, which had as many as 1,306.
DNA analysis of the observed samples allowed us to understand that despite many common traits, the new species is not related to those of millipedes observed in California: one of the most likely hypotheses is that given the characteristics they share, they evolved in a very similar way. As mentioned, both types of millipedes are pale and eyeless. In addition, they have large antennae, a beak for feeding, and many legs that are used to grip and move more easily in the ground.
Marek, lead author of the study, Al . said The New York Times That this is an “impressive” finding, precisely because these millipedes have roughly twice the legs of specimens known so far: “750 legs look like a lot of legs to an animal. 1306 really leaves you speechless.”
According to Marek, it is also possible that there will be specimens of the same species with more legs: “All manuals must be rewritten,” he added, “or at least the paragraph on millipedes.”
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