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God of millipedes: First millipede with more than 1,000 legs discovered in Aussie mine

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The Chosen One, the God of millipedes, the first millipede with more than 1,000 legs, has been discovered 60m underground in a mining location in Australia’s Eastern Goldfields Province.

No millipede had ever been discovered with more than 750 legs until the discovery of these leggy buddies, but this ultimate ‘pede has 1,306 legs – more than any other species.

This week’s issue of Scientific Reports features a story on the finding of the first millipede with more than 1,000 legs. Previously, no millipede with more than 750 legs had been discovered.

Paul Marek and his team found the millipede 60 meters below in a mineral exploration drill hole in Australia’s Eastern Goldfields Province. It possesses 1,306 legs, more than any other animal, and is the first member of a new species known as Eumillipes persephone.

God of millipedes: First millipede with more than 1,000 legs discovered in Aussie mine

The name millipede is derived from the Greek word eu- (true), the Latin words mille (thousand), and pes (foot), and refers to Persephone, the Greek goddess of the underworld.

A female Eumillipes persephone with 330 segments and 1,306 legs.

The authors measured four members of the new species and discovered that they have long, thread-like bodies with up to 330 segments that measure up to 0.95mm broad and 95.7mm long. They lack eyes and have small legs as well as cone-shaped heads with antennae and a beak.

A dorsal view of head and ventral view of gonopods of a male Eumillipes persephone.

According to species relationships, E. persephone is distantly related to the former record holder for the most legs, Illacme plenipes, a Californian millipede species.

According to the scientists, the huge number of segments and legs that have evolved in both species may allow them to generate pushing forces that allow them to pass through tight gaps in the soil environments in which they inhabit.

A ventral view of the legs of a male Eumillipes persephone. 

The findings emphasize the Eastern Goldfields Province’s biodiversity. The authors recommend that efforts be made to maintain E. persephone’s subsurface habitat in order to reduce the impact of mining in this region on the species.

Source: 10.1038/s41598-021-02447-0

Image Credit: Paul E. Marek, Bruno A. Buzatto, William A. Shear, Jackson C. Means, Dennis G. Black, Mark S. Harvey, Juanita Rodriguez, Scientific Reports.

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