Eumillipes Persephone is a creature unlike any other: it uses pulsating rings on its body to dig deep into the ground, where it stays cool by the blazing Australian sun. Oh, and it has many legs: Specifically: 1,306.
umillips persephone It is the first true millipede ever discovered. In a study published in the journal scientific report, researchers revealed that they found a creature with showy limbs at a mining excavation in Western Australia. The discovery brings us one step closer to understanding these elusive creatures that may be at risk of extinction.
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“Here we report the discovery of e. persephone , the first known super-long millipede in Australia and the new world record for the animal with the most legs”, the scientists proudly announced in the newspaper.
In August 2020, scientists identified a “yellow, wire-like millipede” in the Goldfields region of Western Australia – an arid spot known for surface mining – hidden 60 meters below the surface in a drill hole.
It was discovered that there were more centipedes hiding in other nearby drill holes – the scientists used special traps called trogtraps tied to wet leaves to capture the long-legged creatures, collecting eight centipedes in total.
The scientists later extracted and sequenced the DNA from the samples. Finally, he looked at the millipedes under a microscope, confirming that they were indeed the first true millipedes.
new species of millipedes, umillips persephone There are more than 1,306 known millipedes – over 1,000 feet, to be precise. Although “millipede” translates to “one thousand feet”, no millipedes with more than 750 feet have been discovered before.
The scientists’ analysis also provides interesting clues about how this creature survives. It’s “super elongated,” which means it’s made up of over 180 sections that help you get underground. The scientists found 330 segments in one of the female specimens.
The slip rings on the creature’s “super elongated” body, along with its 1,306 legs, help propel the millipede. This move allows him to tunnel through the ground. Its legs may be shorter than those of other millipedes, but in this case quantity may be more important than quality.
“The increase in the number of legs probably contributes to a greater attractive force forcing out smaller cracks and openings,” the researchers wrote.
Scientists have also identified an “impressive morphological similarity” between e. persephone I I. Plenipes – California’s former record-setting millipede with up to 750 feet. The findings are a curious example of convergent evolution, which occurs when two species in different locations develop a similar beneficial trait—in this case a bunch of legs.
The discovery may not seem like a big deal to non-millipede enthusiasts, but the discovery provides unique insight into one of the oldest animal lineages on Earth. Millipedes have lived on Earth for more than 400 million years and are probably one of the “first animals to breathe atmospheric oxygen,” according to research. They help break down plant and feces in many ecosystems.
But despite its importance, “primary knowledge of millipede diversity lags far behind that of other groups of animals,” write the scientists. So scientists are still trying to figure out the number and types of different centipedes, although this latest discovery brings them a little closer.
This new species is particularly interesting because scientists are unsure how e. persephone Underground ended.
But researchers have a hunch: One theory proposes that as temperatures became much hotter and drier in ancient Earth, millipedes and other cold-adapted animals buried themselves underground, where temperatures were more stable.
“Despite their ecological importance in filtering groundwater and screening for environmental toxins, these underground habitats and their habitats are poorly studied,” the scientists said.
Unfortunately, the quest to save the world’s “first true millipede” may be too late. The area in which it was discovered – the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia – remains the center of surface mining exploration. Most of Australia’s gold, nickel and other minerals are mined from this region.
Underground mining involves the drilling of wells that disrupt habitat and threaten the existence of e. persephone , The world’s first millipede may disappear soon after its discovery if humans do not act quickly to protect it.
As the researchers critically conclude: “Threatened by the encroachment of surface mining, the documentation of this species and the conservation of its habitat is of vital importance.”
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