Scientists discover world’s first true millipede in WA

World's first true millipede
The world’s first true millipede with more than 1000 legs has been discovered in Western Australia by a team including scientists from CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. Image: CSIRO

One of the coolest things about working in science is that there’s always more to discover.

Just ask the team of CSIRO scientists who have just discovered the world’s first true millipede with more than 1000 legs!

It’s been named Eumillipes persephone and it has a whopping 1306 legs! Prior to this discovery, no millipede had been found with more than 750 legs.

CSIRO Research Scientist Dr Juanita Rodriguez was one of seven scientists involved in the discovery of the leggiest animal on the planet and says, “We’ve been naming millipedes for centuries, but this discovery is particularly exciting because it’s a millipede in the truest sense of the word.”

The millipede’s name derives from the Greek word eu- (true), the Latin words mille (thousand) and pes (foot), and references the Greek goddess of the underworld, Persephone.

So where did they find this creature? Well, they actually found four of them 60 metres underground in southern Western Australia. As for its other features, it has a long, thread-like body made up to 330 segments, and is up to 0.95mm wide and 95.7mm long. It has no eyes, short legs and a cone-shaped with antennae and a beak!

World’s first true millipedeWorld’s first true millipedeWorld’s first true millipedeWorld’s first true millipede

Images: CSIRO

And what happens after you discover the world’s first true millipede? Data analysis, of course! Dr Rodriguez has performed the data analysis from the genome of the millipede to determine what other species the Eumillipes persephone was related to.

This work also ties into a broader study being conducted by Dr Rodriguez and her team at CSIRO’s Australian National Insect Collection in Canberra.

“We are studying the chemicals that millipedes produce to look for interesting molecules that could be used as potential antimicrobials against highly virulent and antibiotic resistant pathogens,” Dr Rodriguez said.

“This is important because many of these pathogens are resistant to current drugs, and we need new molecules to treat infections like golden staph and pneumonia.”

Ahh, how amazing is science?!

A big shout to the STEM peeps involved in the discovery of Eumillipes persephone: Paul E Marek (Virginia Tech, USA), Bruno Buzatto (Bennelongia Environmental Consultants), William A Shear (Hampden-Sydney College), Jackson C Means (Virginia Tech, USA), Dennis G Black (La Trobe University, Australia), Mark S Harvey (Western Australia Museum) and Juanita Rodriguez (CSIRO’s Australian National Insect Collection).

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Louise Meers

Author: Louise Meers

Louise is the production editor for Careers with STEM. She has a journalism degree from the University of Technology, Sydney and has spent over a decade writing for youth. She is passionate about inspiring young people to achieve their biggest goals and build a better future.

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