How do you count the legs of such a tiny creature?
To make sure no limbs were missed or counted twice, Marek said he color-coded each 10-leg segment using a high-resolution image of the uncurled millipede in Adobe Illustrator.
“I counted three times, and it took about 1 時間,” said Marek, the author of the study that published in the journal Scientific Reports on Thursday.
It’s possible that Eumillipes persephone, as the millipede is officially named, is distantly related to the previous record holder for the greatest number of legs, according to an analysis of the taxonomic relationships between millipede species. The Californian millipede species, Illacme plenipes, has up to 750 足.
Navigating an underground habitat
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 in which they live, the authors suggested.
While the surface temperatures in Eastern Goldfields Province, where the millipede was found, are sometimes higher than 114.8 華氏度 (46 摂氏), the groundwater sites where the millipede was collected never exceed 71.6 華氏度 (22 摂氏).
The authors, from Australia and the United States, noted that other unknown invertebrates had been discovered beneath the Earth’s surface in recent years — including beetles and millipedes in Brazilian iron ore caves and spiders in the caves of the Edwards Plateau in Texas.
“These underground habitats, and their inhabitants, are critically understudied, despite their ecological importance in filtration of groundwater and screening of environmental toxins,” 著者は研究で言った.
The researchers recommended minimizing the impact of mining in this region to conserve the underground habitat.