Discovery of new millipedes for science in Africa

Discovery of new millipedes for science in Africa

Scientists have discovered a new genus and five new species of millipedes in the remote forests of Tanzania in southeastern Africa.

The millipedes were discovered while researchers were studying the growth of trees and vines in the Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania, according to the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Among the forest waste and soft soil, Professor Andy Marshall, from the University of Southern California, said his team found millipedes, whose heads he described as resembling Star Wars characters.

“We record millipedes of all sizes during our fieldwork to measure forest recovery because they are great indicators of forest health, but we did not realize the importance of these species until entomologists evaluated our specimens,” Marshall said.

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He noted that the newly discovered millipedes are a few centimeters long and have about 200 legs each.

The largest African millipedes can reach a length of 35 cm, or approximately 14 inches. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the largest species of millipede in North America are about half their length, at up to 15 centimeters, or 6 inches.

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Marshall noted that the discovery of a new genus and species of millipedes demonstrates how much remains to be discovered in tropical forests.

According to the University of Southern California, the new millipede genus is called Udzungwastreptus, while the five new species are Lophostreptus magombera, Attemsostreptus cataractae, Attemsostreptus leptoptilos, Attemsostreptus julostriatus, and Udzungwastreptus marianae.

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The millipede specimens were brought to the Natural History Museum at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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