Scientists found the deepest cave-dwelling centipede in the world and named it after the king of hell in Greek mythology – Geophilus hadesi, or simply put Hades.
The newly found species was spotted in the depths of Velebit Mountains’s cave system in Croatia. Unlike its cousins from the Geophilomorpha family, G. Hadesi does not only seek temporary refuge in caves, it likes it in there and thrives in the otherwise hostile environment.
The researchers who discovered it published a paper on it Tuesday in the journal ZooKeys.
But there is another species of centipede that doesn’t abandon its cavernous crib – Geophilus persephones named after Persephone, Hades’ wife.
Persephone was first found in the 1990s in a remote cave in France. So, the team dubbed the newly discovered species with the other centipede in their mind.
Hades likes to crawl 1,100 meters, or two-thirds of a mile below the surface. Its body is covered in a fur-like coating and very long antennas. Since it lives in complete darkness it uses its body hair, or setae, and the antennae to detect its prey.
G. hadesi is a carnivorous invertebrate which has a special appetite for larvae, woodlice, worms and other small critters. Its bite is extremely poisonous to its prey but it does not affect people.
Croatian researchers have found the specimen at a depth of 3,609 feet making it the world’s deepest dwelling centipede. But there may be others since most crevices of the Velebit Mountains are nearly impossible to explore.
Hades’s flat body helps it crawl with an incredible ease on the rocky surfaces of the crevices. It also has 33 pairs of legs which end in strong claws that allow it to cling onto fixed surfaces. Yeti crabs that thrive in the waters of Antarctica use the same system to grab onto rocks.
Pavel Stoev of the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia, Bulgaria, who co-authored the study on the weird critter, said that G. bhadesi can survive extreme temperatures of up to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, or three degrees Celsius in its cold environment.
Currently, researchers are trying to figure out what may have forced the centipede to live in such hostile environment, leaving aside a lost bet with the Olympian gods. They speculate that fluctuations in outside temperatures may be an answer.
Velebit Mountains are also a welcoming home for many cave critters, so researchers hope to find even more species that may further surprise us with their unusual survivability.
Image Source: Tech Times