back to article Newly discovered millipede earns its name by being the first to walk on one thousand legs

Pedantic observers of arthropods can finally sleep at night as scientists have discovered a millipede with more than 1,000 legs. A dorsal view of head and ventral view of gonopods of a male Eumillipes persephone. A dorsal view of head and ventral view of gonopods of a male Eumillipes persephone. Pic: Marek et al, Nature …

  1. Steve Crook

    Drill hole habitat.

    > Discovered in the resource-rich Goldfields-Esperance region, [it is] threatened by encroaching surface mining, documentation of this species and conservation of its habitat are of critical importance

    Clearly this one was not unhappy to use a drill hole as habitat. Perhaps there's a chance that the 'damage' done by mining is actually providing new habitat the millipedes can use.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Drill hole habitat.

      It was already living there before the drill hole was made.

      You can be sure the mining is damaging an existing habitat.

    2. CuChulainn Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Drill hole habitat.

      I bet it's unhappy now, though, up in Millipede Heaven.

      You don't get a scanning electron micrograph like that on a live specimen.

      When I was taking pictures like that, the specimen had to be sputter coated with gold in a vacuum chamber, mounted on a plinth, then placed in the SEM (which was also evacuated to get the sharpest image).

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Drill hole habitat.

        So tardigrades would be fine then, and walk away afterwards whilst flipping you the bird.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    millipede

    millipede? Surely it is a kilopede?

    Discuss.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: millipede

      It's all Greek (and Latin) - sort of...

      In the metric system, at least at the start,

      Positive powers of 10 - Greek derived prefixes kilo, mega

      Negative powers of 10 - Latin derived prefixes centi, milli

      which neatly gets us to

      Centipede

      Millipede

      ...Latin

      see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_system

      And continuing the Latin theme, we have "Mille Miglia" - Thousand Miles

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mille_Miglia

      1. simonlb
        Happy

        Re: millipede

        What have the bloody Greeks or Romans ever done for us?

        1. F Seiler

          Re: millipede

          A Greek told us to sit in caves and stare at shadows moving on the wall. And the Romans provide the the floor heating.

          Welcome to homeoffice.

        2. Dave559 Silver badge

          Re: millipede

          “What have the bloody Greeks or Romans ever done for us?”

          MILLIPEDES EUNT DOMUS

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: millipede

            Not in my house, thanks.

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: millipede

        Negative powers of 10 - Latin derived prefixes centi, milli

        So a true millipede has 1 thousandth of a leg?

    2. HildyJ Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: millipede

      Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda (Latin - thousand feet) which was used in the 16th or early 17th century well before the Frenchies got into the act.

      Why the French couldn't use the Greek for negative powers of 10 (kilo for thousandth) and the more widely known Latin for positive powers of 10 (mille for thousand) is beyond me.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: millipede

        Surely a kibo-pede it has 1000 legs not 1024

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: millipede

          Kibo!

      2. Irony Deficient Silver badge

        Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

        The former is good Latin — mille pedes is “a thousand feet” when mille is an adjective (and pedes is nominative plural), and mille pedum is “a thousand of feet” when mille is a noun (and pedum is genitive plural). However, centum pedes is “a hundred feet”. The “centi-” prefix comes from the way centum declines for some multiple hundreds, e.g. ducenti “two hundred”, trecenti “three hundred”, sescenti “six hundred”. There is a Latin milli, an ablative declension of the noun mille, e.g. cum milli pedum “with a thousand of feet”.

        The English word “mile” comes from Latin mille passus “a thousand paces” / mille passuum “a thousand of paces”.

        1. Dr Scrum Master

          Re: Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

          The English word “mile” comes from Latin mille passus “a thousand paces” / mille passuum “a thousand of paces”.

          At 1,760 yards, I wonder who's pace is 1.76 yards long.

          1. Julian Bradfield

            Re: Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

            I think you should understand "pace" as "double pace" - left foot to left foot.

            1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
              Alert

              Re: Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

              Sinister, Dexter, Sinister

          2. John Sager

            Re: Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

            The Romans. They counted the distance before the feet returned to the same position, i.e. two of our paces.

            1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

              Re: Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

              No, that's one of our paces, two of our steps. One pace = Two steps.

          3. teknopaul Silver badge

            Re: Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

            There is a fantastic answer to that question.

            The key is that there are 5280 feet in a mile which is a nice round number in furlongs.

            https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/25108/why-are-there-5280-feet-mile-making-sense-measurements

          4. Lotaresco

            Re: Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

            "At 1,760 yards, I wonder who's pace is 1.76 yards long."

            My remembery is that the pace is actually two steps. Also that professional Roman pacers used a hodometer, a version of a distance measuring wheel which measured distances of 5,000ft (one Roman mile).

        2. HildyJ Silver badge

          Re: Clearly it should be millepedes or millepeda

          Quite correct in its entirely.

          I only included Millepeda because the first references used that word to describe a woodlouse. You can probably blame church Latin for it.

      3. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: millipede

        I am glad they got into the act like 16 other countries.

        "The Metre Convention (French: Convention du Mètre), also known as the Treaty of the Metre,[1] is an international treaty that was signed in Paris on 20 May 1875 by representatives of 17 nations (Argentina, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Norway, Switzerland, Ottoman Empire, United States of America, and Venezuela).".

        Spot the missing country and then give a word to explain the reason for that.

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: millipede

          Empire

        2. HildyJ Silver badge

          Re: millipede

          It still doesn't explain why the French decided Greek got the powers of ten.

          It's so 18th hectury.

          Thank the goddess the rest of the world ignored the French metric time proposal.

          1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

            why the French decided Greek got the powers of ten

            Reading through the Loi de 18 germinal an III “Law of 7 April 1795”, which first gave legal force to six of the newfangled units in Revolutionary France, I suspect that the relevant question is really why Latin provided the negative powers of ten. My suspicion is that it is related to the French language itself, where dixième means “tenth” and centième means “hundredth”. One of the new units defined by the law was the franc (the new unit of money), and the law defined the décime and the centime as a tenth of a franc and a hundredth of a franc respectively. (Décime is a descendant of Latin decimus “tenth”, as is English “dime”; centime was coined [no pun intended] based on décime, since the Latin word for “hundredth” is the less wieldy centesimus.) If a hundredth of a franc had been named « hectime », à la mode grecque, it undoubtedly would have been less recognizable to the average French person of the era than centime was, since a coin with a value of a hundredth of a franc would be used much more in everyday commerce at that time than a banknote with a value of hundred francs.

          2. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: millipede

            @HildyJ

            We actually use decimal time like for instance nanosecond and millisecond.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: millipede

          Back-compatible-forever

          Don't knock Britannia until you try walking a mile in her shoes. Which mile? Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, and US finally agreed 1959 on a standard international "yard" of 0.9144 m so that their miles of 1760 yards of 1609.344 all coincided , (also 25.4 mm per inch). With the exception of the US survey mile, which is 1/0.999998 of an international mile. And of course nautical miles, which can't be walked in shoes anyway, even if you had 1000 legs.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: millipede

            Of course you can walk a nautical mile, even several, just pretend you are an airplane.

        4. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge

          Re: millipede

          Japan,

      4. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: millipede

        Why the French couldn't use the Greek for negative powers of 10 (kilo for thousandth) and the more widely known Latin for positive powers of 10 (mille for thousand) is beyond me.

        It's all because of History. The first decree that defined the new units of measurement (August, 1st 1793) only specified prefixes for negative powers, and thus used the Latin version. An exception was for 1,000 meters named as that moment a millaire

        A second decree (April 7th, 1795 or 18 germinal year 3) decided there was also a need for prefixes for positive powers. Latin ones being used already, Greek ones were used instead, Greek being the second etymological root for the French language.

  3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Move over Spot

    Will Boston Dynamics launch a Millipede?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Move over Spot

      Will Nike sponsor human/millipede hybridisation to boost trainer sales?

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Move over Spot

        Why bother with something real, when there's the metaverse and NFTs

        https://footwearnews.com/2021/business/retail/nike-nft-digtal-sneakers-resale-1203130757/

        https://www.gq.com/story/nft-fashion-sneakers

        And there are kids in the world who don't have any footware, and these (and real Nikes) sell for sums that far exceed the lifetime earnings that some of those kids or their parents will ever make. What a wonderful world we live in

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Move over Spot

          Wonder of Zuckerberg's metaverse will have poverty/people can go about their metaverse life without encountering homeless people - "Zuckerberg eradicates poverty"

          1. CountCadaver

            Re: Move over Spot

            So basically a Virtual Elysium then?

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Great zoological name.

    In no time at all, however, some lumper* will come along and insist it's part of some other genus.

    *The group taxonimsts is divided into two subgroups, lumpers and splitters who respectively lump multiple genera, families etc. into fewer, larger ones and split general, families etc into multiple smaller ones. This taxonomy of taxonomists is meta-taxonomy.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Well, it's certainly taxon my brain at this time of night!

      1. Robert Helpmann??
        Childcatcher

        "We need to build a large taxon collider to find fundamental specification particles and confirm the possibility of a variety of proposed theoretical chimeras."

        Somewhere, inevitably, a politician will read these words and funds will be allocated.

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          (deleted)

          replied to the wrong post

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Splitter!

      "The group taxonimsts is divided into two subgroups, lumpers and splitters who respectively lump multiple genera, families etc. into fewer, larger ones and split general, families etc into multiple smaller ones. This taxonomy of taxonomists is meta-taxonomy."

      It's not only taxonomists.

      1. Lotaresco

        Re: Splitter!

        The group taxonomists is divided into two subgroups, cladisticians and idiots.

    3. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Lumpers and Splitters

      Thanks for the reminder. I've been using precisely the categories "lumpers and splitters" since the 1970s. No internet back then, so I had no idea where I got it. Now two seconds work shows I got it from Darwin. I find the Wikipedia page amusing. Hexter's argument that Hill's logical fallacy made him a lumper could also be seen as a form of lumping!

  5. DJV Silver badge

    Wasn't this on Top of the Pops?

    Sorry, my mistake - that was Legs & Co.

  6. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    1,306 legs

    That makes it almost sesquimillipedalian.

    1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

      Re: 1,306 legs

      Millitrecentisexapedalian, to be exact.

    2. Spoobistle
      Joke

      Re: 1,306 legs

      So how could they tell the one in the picture was male?

      Oh, of course, 1307 legs...

    3. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: 1,306 legs

      They start with 8 legs when they hatch from their eggs and add segments and legs as they grow.

      At one point (s)he had exactly 1000 legs.

      Presumably they have a coming of age at that point, and all the other pseudomillipes and protomillipes respect them as the one true eumillipes.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: 1,306 legs

        They can't start with 8 legs, as the legs always count at 4*n+2, four legs per segment and two legs on the neck segment. I think they start with six legs.

        1. Alligator
          FAIL

          Re: 1,306 legs

          Which also means that they'd never have exactly 1000 legs.

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: 1,306 legs

      +1 for use of the sequi- prefix. Are you a biochemist by any chance? The only place I have come across sesqui- is in sesquiterpenes, because the person who discovered terpene thought it had a base unit of ten carbon atoms, whereas it's actually two lots of five, (two fused isopentenyl groups). When they had to come up with names for analogous molecules comprised of three of these units, they got stuck calling them sesquiterpenoids which roughly means "analogues of one-and-a-half terpene units".

  7. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Boffin

    Was it injured?

    Millipedes have 4 legs per segment (distinguishing them from the centipedes that only have 2 legs per segment), so 1306 legs is 14 legs short for 330 segments. Even allowing for no legs on the head segment and, possibly, the arse segment, there's a few legs missing.

    [Edit] The wonders of Wikipedia, the first segment (Collum, not to be confused with a character from LoTR) has no legs, the next three have 2 legs, and the last few may be legless, so it can all add up correctly.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Was it injured?

      What goes: thirteen hundred and five, thud, thirteen hundred and five, thud...

      An Eumillipede with a wooden leg, obviously.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So. many. legs.

    I wonder how Evolution made this kind of creature viable. I would think that, the longer you are, the bigger a target you are to predators. Small size can be a benefit.

    On the other hand, in its environment, maybe it has no predators, so that is not a factor.

    It's still bewildering that such a creature can exist with so many segments. Could all millipedes grow to such length ? Maybe the fact that actual thousand-foot 'pedes are so hard to find is just because normally they get eaten before they can grow long enough ?

    Questions, questions . . .

    1. Lazlo Woodbine

      Re: So. many. legs.

      There can't be a huge number of predators 60m underground, apart from huge drill-bits obviously

      1. AdamT

        Re: So. many. legs.

        Not sure that a huge drill-bit is really a predator? But, on the other hand, I don't know what the biological or environmental term is for "huge thing that just sort of 'happens' to you" ...

        e.g. the elephant didn't sit on you on purpose, it was just tired and didn't notice you were there.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So. many. legs.

          "the biological or environmental term is for "huge thing that just sort of 'happens' to you" ..."

          Puberty.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: So. many. legs.

        "There can't be a huge number of predators 60m underground, apart from huge drill-bits obviously"

        Sandworms? Graboids?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: So. many. legs.

          The rock monster from the Start Trek episode, "the Devil in the Dark". But they'd probably be safe from that as long as they're not wearing red shirts.

    2. andy k O'Croydon

      Think like a millipede

      "She's got legs up to here!"

    3. Steve Crook

      Re: So. many. legs.

      That it has few predators is a factor. There's no pressure to be small and nimble to run away from things.

      If it's carnivorous is there a chance it might start to eat its rear end without realising and come over all ouroboros? Or tie itself in a knot it can't get out of...

      Anyone remember the 'centipede' from a Piers Anthony novel? One of Orn, Omnivore and Ox IIRC but don't remember which one.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So. many. legs.

      It would be well-equipped to give any would-be predator a good kicking.

    5. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: So. many. legs.

      "I wonder how Evolution made this kind of creature viable."

      I want to know if they invented the aerosol deodorant before the wheel.

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. mewoch

    further confusion

    Just to add to the milli/kilo confusion, the Eastern Goldfields is in the west of Australia.

    1. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: further confusion

      Norfolk county is south of Suffolk county, in Massachusetts.

    2. Phil Kingston

      Re: further confusion

      And we're pretty precious about our unique critters.

      And the eastern states would just freak out and drop their Wanker Coffees if they saw such a thing.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pedantry

    Shouldn’t it be a kilopede?

  11. Spanners Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Presumably

    I assume that like everything else from Australia, it will killl me if allowed?

  12. Imhotep Silver badge

    Lower than a flea's bellybutton

    I'm curious what kind of habitat there is for this nightmare 60 metres down. Is this a cave dwelling creature, a burrower (that seems awfully deep for burrowing) or?

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Lower than a flea's bellybutton

      Maybe one of its ancestors was well into Jules Verne but, given their relatively small size, 60m down is only as far as they've got so far. Give 'em time!

  13. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alien

    Megapede

    Ok, so onto the search for a Megapede.

    May be Perseverance may dig one up over on Mars

    1. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: Megapede

      No need to dig - there's on on a rock (a third of the way from the right)

      https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/multimedia/raw-images/ZR0_0170_0682013832_178EBY_N0060410ZCAM08183_1100LMJ

  14. IceC0ld

    found in Oz, quele surprise ffs

    discovered the millipede 60 metres underground in the Eastern Goldfields Province of south and central-eastern Australia.

    will they ever find something cuddly and sweet down there, and DON'T bring the glory of Kylie into this :o)

    OR them bloody koalas

  15. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Joke

    1,306 legs

    Does anyone else think this is just greedy?

    Still, I suppose they should be thankful they don't have to wear shoes... you'd never get anything done in the day with that many legs..

  16. Al Napp

    A podiatric pedant pleasing post

    perfect

  17. Tom 7 Silver badge

    not as big as this one though

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/dec/21/largest-ever-giant-millipede-fossil-found-on-uk-beach

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