BTS 047: This is Hades, Centipede of the Underworld

BTS 047: This is Hades, Centipede of the Underworld
Photo Credit: J. Bedek

Photo Credit: J. Bedek

Centipedes are creepy crawlies that come straight out of a hellish imagination. It would then seem fitting that a newly discovered species of centipede that spends its entire life in dark eerie caves would be named after Hades, king of the underworld.

Living in total darkness in the caves of the Velebit Mountains in Croatia that is nearly a kilometre below the Earth's surface, the Geophilus hadesi feeds on small prey like worms and spiders, deteching their presence using its long antennae and furlike body hair, or setae, that covers its appendages.

It is possible that the Geophilus hadesi can live in depths more than a kilometre as some of the crevices of the Velebit Mountains were unreachable by scientists, though one specimen was eventually collected from a depth of 1.1km, the deepest known habitat for any centipede.

It is remarkable that even at such a depth, the Geophilus hadesi measures in at 2.2 to 2.8cm and is equipped with 33 pairs of legs that ends in thin "usually long" claws that researchers suspect could be used to better cling on to rocky surfaces.

The Geophilus hadesi is accompanied by its queen, the Geophilius persophones, the only other identified species of centipede that spends its entire life underground and is named after Persephone, the queen of the underworld.

With such a discovery, it does may one wonder about the vast ecosystem that lay beneath our feet.

You can go behind the science of this centipede of the underworld by starting here.


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