Millipede Of The Week


For someone who finds it difficult to co-ordinate two limbs at times, it is mind-boggling how a creature with 414 legs gets along. According to reports in ZooKeys this week this is exactly the number of limbs a new species of millipede found in a cave in the Sequoia National Park in California possesses.

Illacme tobini, as it is known, has in addition to all its legs, 200 poison glands, silk-secreting hairs and things that are shaped like paired nozzles which shoot out some form of chemical to ward off its enemies. The ninth and tenth pairs of legs are used as “copulatory devices”, as the report quaintly puts it, which the male creature uses to transfer sperm to its partner. After all, it has plenty of legs to spare.

Still, this is not the millipede with the most legs. That distinction goes to a close relative, Illacme plenipes, which has 750 of the things.

On reflection, though,I can’t help thinking that millipede is a bit of a misnomer.