Centipedes are, for many, the stuff of nightmares. That’s just as true of the newly discovered Geophilus hadesi, found deep beneath the Earth’s surface by researchers from the Croatian Biospeleological Society. Named for the mythological underworld of Hades, the moniker is fitting – it’s the deepest dwelling centipede ever discovered.
The Hades centipede was actually identified in three caves in Croatia’s Velebit Mountains, at depths as low as 1100 meters. While centipedes are often found in caves, perma-dwellers like Hades and its relative the Persephone centipede are exceptionally rare. Due to its exclusively subterranean environment, the Hades centipede has body adaptions including elongated antennae, body segments and legs.
“When I first saw the animal and its striking appearance, I immediately realized that this is a new, hitherto unnamed and highly adapted to cave environment species. This finding comes to prove once again how little we know about the life in caves, where even in the best prospected areas, one can still find incredible animals” says the lead author Pavel Stoev, Pensoft Publishers and National Museum of Natural History, Sofia.
The full findings appear in ZooKeys, an open-access journal.