Scientists have discovered the first-ever “true” millipede with more than 1,000 legs 60 meters underground in a mining area in Western Australia, setting the record for the creature with the most legs known to humans.
Announcing the discovery in the peer-reviewed Scientific Reports journal, the team of researchers revealed that record-setting new species had been found during a subterranean environmental impact assessment.
While the name ‘millipede’ is Latin for a thousand feet, no creature has been found until now with one thousand legs despite them having lived on Earth for more than 400 million years. The insects differ because they have two pairs of legs on each body segment versus one on centipedes.
The newly discovered millipede, named Eumillipes Persephone after the Greek goddess of the underworld, has 1,306 legs. It broke the previous record set by a species found in central California, Illacme Plenipes, which has up to 750 legs.
Composed of around 330 segments, with small legs and a cone-shaped head, the millipede lives below the ground and in complete darkness, having been discovered underground in the Eastern Goldfields mining region.
Speaking following the discovery, Dr. Bruno Buzatto, a biologist at Bennelongia Environmental Consultants, said researchers were “incredibly lucky” to find the “unique” creature that is “completely different” to previous species.
Dr. Juanita Rodriguez, one of the researchers and an insect expert, described how the millipede has likely evolved, growing its length to give it greater movement underground. “The more length you have, the more strength to propel forward,” Rodriguez said.
While scientists have, so far, discovered more than 2,000 species of millipede in Australia, Rodriguez claimed that there could be as many as 4,000.