A dorsal view of head and ventral view of gonopods of a male Eumillipes persephone. Credit: The first true millipede—1,306 legs long, Paul E. Marek, Bruno A. Buzatto, William A. Shear, Jackson C. Means, Dennis G. Black, Mark S. Harvey, Juanita Rodriguez, Scientific Reports.

First millipede with more than 1,000 legs discovered in Aussie mine

Embargoed until: Publicly released:
Peer-reviewed: This work was reviewed and scrutinised by relevant independent experts.

The God of millipedes, The Chosen One, the first millipede with more than 1,000 legs has been found 60m underground in a mining area in the Eastern Goldfields Province of Australia. Before the discovery of these leggy friends, no millipede had ever been found with more than 750 legs, but this ultimate ‘pede has 1,306 legs – more than any other animal. Researchers have not named this species "Lotsa-Legs-McGee" and have instead opted for the poetic Eumillipes Persephone, derived from the Greek word eu- (true), the Latin words mille (thousand) and pes (foot), and references the Greek goddess of the underworld, Persephone. The team measured four members of this new species, and found they have long, thread like bodies of up to 330 segments, are eyeless, have short legs and cone-shaped heads with antennae and a beak.

Journal/conference: Scientific Reports

Link to research (DOI): 10.1038/s41598-021-02447-0

Organisation/s: Macquarie University, The University of Western Australia, La Trobe University

Funder: This research was supported by a National Science Foundation grant to PEM (Division of Environmental Biology, Systematics and Biodiversity Sciences, #1916368). Thanks to Charity Hall, Howard Dunleavy, and Bailey Connors for assisting with editing, figure illustration, and specimen measurement. Sergei Golovatch and Henrik Enghoff provided comments on previous versions of the manuscript.

Media release

From: Springer Nature

Biology: First millipede with more than 1,000 legs discovered

The discovery of the first millipede with more than 1,000 legs is reported in Scientific Reports this week. Prior to this, no millipede had been found with more than 750 legs.

Paul Marek and colleagues discovered the millipede 60 metres underground in a drill hole created for mineral exploration in the mining area of the Eastern Goldfields Province of Australia. It has 1,306 legs — more than any other animal — and belongs to a new species that has been named Eumillipes persephone. The millipede’s name derives from the Greek word eu- (true), the Latin words mille (thousand) and pes (foot), and references the Greek goddess of the underworld, Persephone. The authors measured four members of the new species and found that they have long, thread-like bodies consisting of up to 330 segments and are up to 0.95mm wide and 95.7mm long. They are eyeless, have short legs, and cone-shaped heads with antennae and a beak.

Analysis of the relationships between species suggests that E. persephone is distantly related to the previous record holder for the greatest number of legs — the Californian millipede species, Illacme plenipes. The authors suggest that the large number of segments and legs that have evolved in both species may allow them to generate pushing forces that enable them to move through narrow openings in the soil habitats they live in.

The findings highlight the biodiversity found within the Eastern Goldfields Province. To minimise the impact of mining in this region on E. persephone, the authors advise that efforts should be made to conserve its underground habitat.

Attachments:

Note: Not all attachments are visible to the general public

  • Springer Nature
    Web page
    The URL will go live after the embargo lifts.

News for:

Australia
NSW
VIC
WA

Multimedia:

  • Image 1
    Image 1

    A female Eumillipes persephone with 330 segments and 1,306 legs. Credit: The first true millipede—1,306 legs long, Paul E. Marek, Bruno A. Buzatto, William A. Shear, Jackson C. Means, Dennis G. Black, Mark S. Harvey, Juanita Rodriguez, Scientific Reports.

    File size: 618.9 KB

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

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 17 Dec 2021 3:16am

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

  • Image 2
    Image 2

    A dorsal view of head and ventral view of gonopods of a male Eumillipes persephone. Credit: The first true millipede—1,306 legs long, Paul E. Marek, Bruno A. Buzatto, William A. Shear, Jackson C. Means, Dennis G. Black, Mark S. Harvey, Juanita Rodriguez, Scientific Reports.

    File size: 1.0 MB

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

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 17 Dec 2021 3:16am

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

  • Image 3
    Image 3

    A ventral view of the legs of a male Eumillipes persephone. Credit: The first true millipede—1,306 legs long, Paul E. Marek, Bruno A. Buzatto, William A. Shear, Jackson C. Means, Dennis G. Black, Mark S. Harvey, Juanita Rodriguez, Scientific Reports.

    File size: 1.2 MB

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

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 17 Dec 2021 3:16am

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

Show less
Show more

Media contact details for this story are only visible to registered journalists.