Scientists discover Hades, the Centipede from Hell, in one of the deepest caves in the entire world.
The arthropod was named after Hades, the Greek God of the Underworld, because it lives so deep into the earth. Scientists have uncovered too few of the mysteries of the deep world, especially regarding the species that have adapted to this damp, dark and cold environment.
Geophilus hadesi, or Hades was found by scientist from the Croatian Biospeleological Society in Croatia, under Velebit Mountain in three caves that are part of the 15th deepest cave system in the entire world.
“When I first saw the animal and its striking appearance, I immediately realized that this is a new, hitherto unnamed … species,” said Pavel Stoev, the lead author of the study.
The arthropod has a long segmented body and each of its many segments bares appendages that are equipped with hooks, which the centipede then uses for hunting its prey. It also has a strong mandible, which it can use to bite into its prey, as it usually consists of insects that are covered in a hard chitinous shell, that is quite hard to break.
Furthermore, the centipede is equipped with specialized glands that secrete a strong venom that is quite toxic for its prey. Therefore, Hades uses its claws to catch and hold the insects and then it inflicts the poisonous bite on it prey, that ensures them a still meal. According to the findings of the Croatian team of researchers, the venom of the Centipede from Hell poses no risk for humans though.
Study leader Pavel Stoev is a member of the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia. He expresses the necessity for the research of the fauna of deep places such as caves, because many undiscovered creatures still live in it and it would be extremely helpful to the scientific world to understand the adaptation process that has enabled these species to survive the thick darkness of these places and even thrive there.
Hades is not the only creature of the underworld that scientists have stumbled upon. Back in the 90’s a team of scientists has discovered another centipede of the deep, which they have named Geophilus persephones, after the Greek Goddess of the Underworld, Persephone.
The study conducted by the Croatian Biospeleological Society was recently published in the scientific journal ZooKeys. Hopefully Hades, the Centipede from Hell will inspire other scientists further on to search the deep places of the world for more wondrous creatures.
Image Source: livescience.com