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New (and large) amphibious centipede discovered

Tuesday, April 20th 2021, 2:46 pm - The centipede is large, rare, and may be endangered.

Researchers have discovered a new species of tropical centipede genus Scolopendra in parts of Japan and Taiwan, marking the first new centipede identified in the former region in 143 years.

Scolopendra is a genus of large tropical centipede, and the newest discovery is about 20 cm long and 2 cm in width, making it the biggest centipede ever found in both areas.

Its characteristics are rare, too: the new centipede prefers streamside environments in areas rarely frequented by humans and exhibits amphibious characteristics, joining an exclusive club of amphibious Scolopendrs, of which there are now only three known species.

Tokyo Metropolitan University - centipede The amphibious Scolopendra alcyona Tsukamoto & Shimano inhabits streamside environments, deep in the forests of the Ryukyu Archipelago. Photo and caption courtesy: Tokyo Metropolitan University.

Researchers noted the new centipede's "beautiful jade-coloured shell" and have named it Scolopendra alcyona Tsukamoto & Shimano.

The name has mythological roots: "Alcyone" is a Greek figure who was transformed into a kingfisher by Zeus. Its Japanese name, ryujin-ômukade, is a nod to the region it was found, the Ryukyu Archipelago, and references a dragon god named ryujin, who was plagued by a centipede in its ear.

Researchers aren't sure, but they suspect their new discovery might be endangered.

"The team hopes to continue to monitor and study them from a safe distance, to preserve their habitat," they say in a statement.

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