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The first true millipede has been discovered in Australia.

January 1, 2022 10:25 am
The first true millipede, with more than 1,000 legs, has been discovered in Australia.

Millipedes have lots of legs. It’s defining feature of this creature, which is neither worm nor insect.

However, despite a name derived from the Latin for thousand (mille) and feet (pes), no millipede has been found with more than 750 legs — until now.

Scientists have discovered the first millipede that has more than 1,000 legs — 1,306 to be precise — and the most legs of any living creature on Earth. It was found living 60 meters (200 feet) below ground in a drill hole created for mineral exploration in Western Australia.

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The eyeless invertebrate — it’s 3.7 inches (9.5 centimeters) long and 0.04 inch (1 millimeter) wide — has 330 body segments, antennae, a beak for feeding and a cone-shaped head.

“It’s as if you pulled a 3-inch white thread from a shirt (but it had 1,306 legs),” said Paul Marek, an associate professor at the department of entomology at Virginia Tech via email.

How do you count the legs of such a tiny creature?

To make sure no limbs were missed or counted twice, Marek said he color-coded each 10-leg segment using a high-resolution image of the uncurled millipede in Adobe Illustrator.

“I counted three times, and it took about 1 hour,” said Marek, the author of the study that published in the journal Scientific Reports on Thursday.

It’s possible that Eumillipes persephone, as the millipede is officially named, is distantly related to the previous record-holder for the greatest number of legs, according to an analysis of the taxonomic relationships between millipede species. The Californian millipede species, Illacme plenipes, has up to 750 legs.

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