Scientists have discovered a new species of millipede with four penises lurking deep within the crystal cave of Sequoia National Park.
In a paper published in ZooKeys, the team of researchers have named the millipede Illacme tobini. It is tiny, thin, pale, and looks like a piece of thread.
Diplopodologists – scientists who study millipedes – have classified the wriggler as a cousin of the previously discovered millipede, Illacme plenipes – also known as the “leggiest animal on the planet”.
Although Illacme plenipes trumps the Illacme tobini for the number of limbs, it is the clear loser when it comes to the number of genitalia.
The threadlike millipede only has 414 legs, while its ganglier cousin has 750 legs. It also comes armed with four penises, hairs capable of secreting silk and a whopping 200 poison glands.
Paul Marek, co-author of the paper and assistant professor in the entomology department at Virginia Tech, said: "I never would have expected that a second species of the leggiest animal on the planet would be discovered in a cave 150 miles away."
Both millipedes can be found in California. Illacme plenipes prefers to live beneath sand boulders, while Illacme tobini takes cover in cave systems.
The new species raises many questions for diplopodologists. It has peculiar mouthparts, four of its legs have been modified into penises, and it defends itself by shooting a mysterious chemical from the paired nozzles on each of the 100 segments on its body. ®
*Or infinitely more male/undefined if you're female or otherwise lack a penis.