Six New Dragon Millipede Species Found In China

One of the newly discovered dragon millipedes is the ghost dragon millipede, Desmoxytes similis, which gets its ghost-like appearance from a lack of pigmentation. Photo by Sunbin Huang/Xinhui Wang/South China Agricultural University

WUSHAN, China, April 6 (UPI) — Scientists have found six new species of dragon millipedes in China, a few of which live only in caves.

The dungeon-dwelling insects prefer the dark and appear like spiny stick insects with long antennae and a lot more legs. They’re the definition of creepy crawlers.

A few the newly discovered species produce hydrogen cyanide, a toxic chemical, to scare off hungry predators. One of the species is translucent in appearance, while another is milky white.

Dragon millipedes belong to a genus of millipedes called Desmoxytes, which are endemic to southeastern Asia.

“This genus is conspicuous in its species generally showing a dragon-like appearance, with strongly wing, spine or antler-shaped paraterga,” researchers wrote in a new study on their discoveries — published this week in ZooKeys.

The findings build on a 2007 study that found several new members of the Desmoxytes genus throughout the Mekong Delta, including several in Thailand and Myanmar.

One of the most compelling species from the 2007 survey was the “shocking pink dragon millipede,” Desmoxytes purpurosea, from Thailand.

Like most insects that live below ground, the latest species are less dramatically colored.


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