Earth's First True Millipede Species Discovered
- Scientists in Australia have discovered a new species of millipede that lives 200 feet underground, has no eyes, and scurries around on 1,306 legs.
- They named it Eumillipes persephone after Persephone, the Greek goddess and queen of the underworld.
- It has the most legs of any creature on Earth, living or dead.
- The largest specimen of the new species, a female, was less than four inches long, yet easily beat out the previous world-record holder, Illacme plenipes, a millipede that lives near Silicon Valley, California, and has 750 legs.
- This means that E. persephone is the world’s first true millipede, since the word millipede means “thousand feet” in Latin, according to a new study published December 16 in the journal Scientific Reports.
- These are ground-dwelling arthropods that live outdoors and thrive in dark habitats with plenty of moisture.
- Known to feed on decaying plant matter, millipedes often reside directly within sources of food, like piles of leaf litter or rotting logs.
- The arthropods also commonly burrow in areas where soil stays moist, like under rocks or piles of mulch.
- Millipedes play an important role in the natural cycles by helping to break down plant matter after it has undergone microbial decomposition.
- In the absence of decaying material, millipedes may feed on the delicate roots of seedlings or ripening fruit lying on the ground.