Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A new dragon millipede: Desmoxytes laticollis

Millipedes are often found under mulch, piles of dead leaves, or under piles of grass clipping. They thrive in places where the soil stays damp. There they eat dead leaves and decaying wood particles that they find.

In the fall, millipedes often migrate. They move out of their normal habitat. Researchers suspect they may be trying to get ready for winter. However, they have also been seen migrating after a heavy rain has flooded their habitat. During these migrations, millipedes often find their way into our homes.

A good number of millipede species are well adapted to live in caves, e.g. the dragon millipedes of the genus Desmoxytes. It's species show a dragon-like appearance, with strongly wing-, spine- or antler-shaped extensions of the body wall.

Today's new species is one of six recently discovered ones from caves in China. The name refers to the width of the first segment behind the head of the animal.

For the experts: Six new species of Desmoxytes are described from southern China: D. laticollis sp. n., D. simplipoda sp. n., and D. similis sp. n., all three from caves in Guangdong Province; D. phasmoides sp. n. also from a cave, and both epigean D. spiniterga sp. n. and D. variabilis sp. n., the latter trio from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. A modified key to all 20 Desmoxytes species currently known to occur in China is given.

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