Eumillipes Persephone, the First “True” Millipede


Caleb Yoo, Contributor

Imagine being 194 feet underground in an abandoned mining hole. The only light you can perceive coming from your headlight. Imagine being the person that discovered the first “true” millipede by accident. A true 1000 legged creature. How would you feel?

Paul Marek, an entomologist from Virginia Tech, received eight specimens of the Eumillipes Persephone from a team of researchers that were conducting “a subterranean environmental impact assessment.” They caught the specimens “by dropping cups baited with leaf litter into drill holes used for mineral prospecting.” Eventually, they were sent to Marek, and he started studying them.

The name millipede means 1000 legs, which is actually an exaggeration or misnomer. The most legs any millipede had was 750 legs, until Eumillipes Persephone was discovered. The millipede species is a very tiny species. They are only about a millimeter wide, and just under a centimeter long. Because of this, counting the legs was a strenuous task. When Merek was inspecting the female specimen when he realized that the millipede had over 1000 legs. “I was like, Oh my God this has more than 1,000 legs!” he says. Counting up to 1306 legal total, Eumillipes Persephone almost doubles the record of “leggiest” animal, which was previously held by Illacme Plenipes who had up to 750 legs.

After this amazing discovery, scientists are now wondering what is next. This is only one of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of species that have not been discovered yet. With the increasing quality of microscopic technology, will it be easier to find even smaller species? Or are the global crises that we are facing right now going to kill off any unknown species before we can find them? Eumillipes Persephone seemed like such a small and insignificant species of millipede when it was found. It is only a centimeter long, and about a millimeter wide. Despite that, it broke an amazing record, and it truly earned the name, millipede.