Monday, 24 October 2016

New millipede species has 414 legs, four penises

October 24, 2016 
by Brett Smith

Scientists have discovered a small thread-like millipede that has been recognized as the evolutionary cousin of the leggiest creature in the world, another millipede known as Illacme plenipes.

The newly-discovered millipede was named Illacme tobini after cave biologist Ben Tobin of the National Park Service who helped to discover it. The arthropod was uncovered together with many spiders, pseudoscorpions, and flies in unexplored marble caves in California's Sequoia National Park. An analysis published in the open access journal ZooKeys has revealed the new species has 414 legs, as opposed to its leggier relative’s 750 limbs, yet, it has a similar complement of peculiar physiological features, such as a body equipped with 200 poison glands, hairs that release silk, and four penises.

"I never would have expected that a second species of the leggiest animal on the planet would be discovered in a cave 150 miles away," study author Paul Marek, an assistant professor of entomology at Virginia Tech, said in a news release.
Many Legs for Many Occasions

In addition to having hundreds of legs, the newly-discovered millipede also has odd-looking mouthparts of an inexplicable function, four legs that are changed into penises, a body coated in long silk-secreting hairs, and coupled nozzles on every on of its more than 100 segments that spray a defense substance of an unidentified nature, the scientists said in their report.

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