Hades Centipede Dwells Deep in Caves with Persephone

First Posted: Jul 03, 2015 06:40 AM EDT

It's a centipede from Hell. Scientists have uncovered the deepest underground dwelling centipede in three caves in Velebit Mts, Croatia and have named the creature Geophilus hadesi.

The centipede lurks in the dark underground passages of some of the world's deepest cave. Its name is actually inspired by the Greek god of the Underworld, Hades. This name was actually picked to pair with another underground-dwelling relative, Persephone, who in Greek mythology is the queen of the Underworld.

Like most centipedes, this new species is carnivorous and feeds on other invertebrate animals. The new centipedes are common cave inhabitants, though a species with an entire life cycle confined to a cave environment is somewhat rare.

Currently, the Hades and Persephone centipedes are the only two geophilomorphs that have adapted to live exclusively in case, thus rightfully bearing the titles of a queen and king of the underworld. Like most cave-dwellers, the newly discovered centipede shows unusual traits, some of which are commonly found in cave-dwelling arthropods, including much elongated antennae.

"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," said Pavel Stoev, lead author of the new study, in a news release. "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."

The findings reveal a bit more about this new species, which dwells as deep as 1100 meters below the surface of the Earth. This, in turn, shows that more studies need to be conducted within deep caves.

The findings are published in the journal ZooKeys.

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