Four New Dragon Millipedes Found In China

Researchers from the South China Agricultural University have discovered four new species of dragon millipedes, including two cave-dwelling ones.

AsianScientist (Nov. 5, 2014) – A team of speleobiologists—scientists who specialize in the study of cave dwellers—from the South China Agriculture University and the Russian Academy of Sciences have described four new species of dragon millipedes from southern China, two of which seem to be cave dwellers. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

The millipede genus Desmoxytes is well-known because the dragon-like appearance of some members of the species. The four new species all can be recognized by their spiky body, the distinctive characteristic which gave the representatives of the genus their unique common name.

Unlike other groups of cave millipedes, which are usually very common, the representatives of Desmoxytes are comparatively rare in caves and always with low number populations. In addition, they are often distributed in a narrow geographical area, or even only present in a single cave or cave system. Because of such rarity and endemism, dragon millipedes are ideal material for evolutionary studies.

China holds the most diverse resources of Desmoxytes. Up to now, China has 14 millipedes from this genus, including nine cavernicolous species. It is believed, however, that the country holds a greater diversity of these bizarre creatures, which are yet to be discovered in future.

The article can be found at: Liu et al. (2014) A review of the dragon millipede genus Desmoxytes Chamberlin, 1923 in China, with descriptions of four new species (Diplopoda, Polydesmida, Paradoxosomatidae).


Source: Pensoft Publishers.
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