Researchers have for the first time uncovered a millipede with more than 1,000 legs – setting a new record. Before this, the highest number of legs found on a millipede was 750.
A millipede with over 1,000 legs was discovered 60 metres deep in an Australian drill hole used for mineral research.
It has 1,306 legs and is part of a new species dubbed Eumillipes persephone by a team of scientists from the United States and Australia. The word millipede comes from the Greek word eu, which means true, as well as the Latin words mille, which means thousand, and pes, which means foot. The last portion is an allusion to Persephone, the Greek goddess of the underworld.
The researchers measured four members of the new species and discovered that they have long, thread-like bodies that are up to 0.95mm diameter and 95.7mm long, with up to 330 segments. Eyeless, with tiny legs and cone-shaped heads with antennae and a beak, they have no eyes.
According to a study of species relationships, E. persephone is distantly related to the former record-holder for the most legs, the Californian millipede species.
The scientists speculate that both species’ huge number of segments and legs may enable them to generate pushing pressures that allow them to travel through tight gaps in their soil environments.