Just in time for the spooky Halloween, a new species of millipede has been discovered in a dark cave at California's Sequoia National Park.
According to Live Science, the pale, thread-like species was discovered in October 2006 by cave biologist Jean Krejca, now of Zara Environmental in Texas. The specimen was then sent to millipede specialists Paul Marek of Virginia Tech and William Shear of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia for further analysis. Soon, it was named Illacme tobini, after Ben Tobin, a cave specialist at Grand Canyon National Park who organized the search that lead to the discovery of the new species.
Unlike the usual species in the genus Illacme, the creepy-crawling animal has 414 legs, the second-highest number of legs in the animal kingdom. And as if those legs were not enough to freak anyone out, Washington Post noted that the millipede's 0.8-inch-long body is made up of an array of strange anatomy such as silk-secreting hairs, four penises that are modified from its legs and 200 pores that secrete an unknown chemical, which is probably poison to kill enemies, as suggested by the scientists.
According to a press release published in Eurekalert, the I. tobini, a evolutionary relative of the leggiest animal on the planet, Illacme plenipes, which has 750 legs. I. plenipes was discovered in 1928, and I. tobini is only the second Illacme species ever discovered, in a span of almost a century.
"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," says Marek.
As described further by the study published in the open access journal Zookeys, the I. tobini has a very limited geographic range. It was found alongside spiders, pseudoscorpions and flies. Meanwhile, only one single specimen of the new species has been found, a male, so researchers don't know what the females look like.
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