Bizarre cave "Lindworms" discovered

Biologists identify six new species of kite centennials in China

Extremely long legs give the stick horror dragon millipede Desmoxytes phasmoides a weird appearance. © Sunbin Huang, Xinhui Wang / South China Agricultural University
Read out

Mini-Worms and Ghosts: Biologists have discovered six new species of dragon millipedes in China - a particularly strange group of millipedes. These multi-legged arthropods live in the permanent darkening of caves and have bizarrely elongated legs and antennae. Two of the species are also completely colorless and almost transparent.

Dragon millipedes (Desmoxytes), among others, owe their name to their unusual appearance. For these millipedes, which are native to Southeast Asia, are often brightly colored and carry rows of defensive thorns on their heads and backs that make them look like little worms. The mini worms can not spit fire, but some of them produce highly toxic hydrocyanic acid, which they use to target attackers.

Liu Weixin from the South China Agricultural University of Guangzhou and her colleagues have now discovered six new species of these strange creatures in southern China. Four of them are found exclusively in caves. Although they lack the spectacular warning color of their living on the earth's surface relatives, yet they are no less spectacular.

The almost transparent ghost-dragon-millipede Desmoxytes similis © Sunbin Huang, Xinhui Wang / South China Agricultural University

Terror legs and ghost color

Among the new species is the bizarre "Stick Terror Dragon Millipede" (Desmoxytes phasmoides). Similar to his namesake, he has extremely elongated legs and antennas, so that he is reminiscent of a branch piece with about 40 side branches. In the other newly discovered kite millipedes, the backplates are extended into long, filamentous spines that also give them a bristly appearance.

Two of the new cave types are completely colorless. Her whitish-transparent body is almost spooky. All newly discovered species are between one and three centimeters long. The six new kite thousandfins increase the number of known species in this group to 41, as the researchers report. But they suspect that there are several other undiscovered representatives in Southeast Asia. (Zookeys, 0216; doi: 10.3897 / zookeys.577.7825) Display

(Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz Institute for Biodiversity of Animals, 06.04.2016 - NPO)