Researchers Discover New Species of Leggy Millipede in California

What has 414 legs 200 poison glands- and four penises? This isn’t a joke

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.

Along with many spiders, pseudoscorpions and flies discovered and catalogued by the cave explorers, the enigmatic millipede was found in the Sequoia National Park in the US. The millipede boasts 414 legs. They have plenty. And a newly described species, which was found living alone in a small California cave, nearly does the millipede name justice. That distinction goes to the 750-legged Illacme plenipes, a close relative of I. tobini that was discovered a few years ago in a cave just 150 miles away. The diplopodologists-scientists who study millipedes-that found the creature were hoping to find more specimen before publishing, and kept going back to the caves and surrounding habitats in search of more tobini millipedes, according to a study published in the journal ZooKeys Tuesday. Where the ninth and tenth pair would sit, the creature had four gonopods - feet adapted for transferring sperm. How that might have played out with a female of this species was unclear, because the biologists did not find one.

Introducing Illacme tobini, a newly described species of millipede discovered in a dark cave at California's Sequoia National Park. Its bristly mouth parts were "peculiar", and their shape suggested the animal may have lived on a diet of only fungus. In order to protect itself from predators, the millipede also sports 200 pores to secret unknown chemical compound as a defence. Fantastic to think that scientists are still discovering entirely new species-and with features that defy explanation. Maybe some day the creature will pop up again in all its leggy glory. Illacme tobini really seems to stress redundancy.

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