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First True Millipede with Over 1,000 Feet Found

Scientists have discovered the world’s first true Millipede. They described a long, thin and segmented creature with a whopping 1,306 legs—more than any other animal ever. Worm-like creepy critters with hundreds of legs are commonly known as Millipede, a name that roughly translates to “thousand feet”—but until now none has ever been found with more than 750.

The species was discovered 60 meters underground in a drill hole in a mining area in Western Australia and has been dubbed Eumillipes persephone. The string-like creature is less than a millimeter wide but nearly 10 centimeters long and has “a cone-shaped head with enormous antennae and a beak for feeding.The species has no eyes and is colorless, traits characteristic of animals that spend their entire lives underground. The Millipede burraows by stretching out its extensible body thereby making it thinner to fit small cracks.

Commenting on the findings, insect specialist Andre Nel, who was not involved in the research, described the new critter as remarkable. In cavity-dwelling insects you usually find elongated legs, rather than elongated bodies. He added that the discovery was a hopeful one for biodiversity, especially in an area that has probably been damaged by mining activity.

Millipede were some of the earliest air-breathing animals on Earth, the study notes, and some extinct species grew to be over two metres long. They play a vital role in the ecosystems they inhabit by eating detritus and recycling nutrients. Baby Millipede hatch with just four legs but can continue to grow new segments with new legs into adulthood.

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