Deep beneath the surface of the Earth, in a dark and dingy cave, lives Hades, the invertebrate king of hell.
Named from the mythological God of the underworld, Geophilus hadesi is a newly discovered species of centipede that inhabits the deep caves of the Velebit Mountains in Croatia.
Unlike most centipedes of the order Geophilomorpha, which only occasionally seek shelter in caves, G. hadesi spends all its life in this dark, underground environment. Tuesday (June 30), the team of scientists who discovered the remarkable critter published the first-ever description of the animal in the journal ZooKeys.
G. hadesi is one of only two known species of centipedes that never leave their cavernous homes. It was named with this mythical queen of the underworld, Persephone, according to Pavel Stoev, an associate professor of zoology at the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia, Bulgaria, and lead author of the paper detailing the new centipede species.
Though its home, is located nearly two-thirds of a mile (1 kilometer) below the Earth’s surface, is a bit dark and gloomy, G. hadesi survives just fine. It has “exceptionally elongated” antennae and furlike body hair, or setae, covering its appendages, and these two features let the animal detect prey in total darkness,” Stoev added.
Like most centipedes, G. hadesi feeds on living animals — most likely larvae, springtails (tiny, insectlike hexapods), worms, woodlice, spiders and other small prey. According to Stoev, though the centipede’s bite is venomous, this “hellish” creature is likely completely harmless to humans. Not that G. hadesi spends much time with people. While scientists from the Croatian Biospeleogical Society have explored the Velebit Mountains where the Hades centipede lives, some of the crevices it inhabits are unreachable. One specimen was collected from a depth of 3,609 feet (1,100 meters), the deepest known habitat for any centipede.
Note: This is a condensed version of a report from Live Science.