In Greek mythology Hades is god of the dead and king of the underworld. Now, Hades is the deepest cave-dwelling centipede known to man.
Geophilus hadesi, better known as the Hades centipede, lives in three caves in Croatia’s Velebit mountains. Scientists collected three specimens of the Hades centipede at different depths in the caves and spotted one at a shocking 3,600 feet below the surface.
Members of the Croatian Biospeleological Society discovered the centipede and published their findings in the journal ZooKeys.
Unlike most species of centipede, which occasionally take shelter in caves, Hades spends all of its life underground and has learned to adapt. The centipede has “exceptionally elongated antennae, trunk segments and leg claws.” This makes Hades one of the cave’s top predators 🐛
“When I first saw the animal and its striking appearance, I immediately realized that this is a new, hitherto unnamed and highly adapted to cave environment species,” said Pavel Stoev, the study’s lead author, in a statement. “This finding comes to prove once again how little we know about the life in caves, where even in the best prospected areas, one can still find incredible animals.”
But, Hades isn’t alone! According to mythology, Hades is not only ruler of the underworld, he is also husband to Persephone. Geophilus persephones (named after Persephone, queen of the underworld) is the only other known cave-dwelling centipede. A match made in hell ❤️
These newly discovered mini-frogs are so small they barely fit on your fingernail – but, they do come in some flashy colors!
Brachycephalus (Anura: Brachycephalidae) is a remarkable genus of miniaturized frogs that call the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest home. The first Brachycephalus species was found in 1824, but most of the species have been discovered over the past 15 years.
Brachycephalus leopardus is dark yellow with black spots – looks like its hitting the gym! IMAGE: MARCIO R. PIE, CC BY SA
A new species of Brachycephalus from Brazil IMAGE: LUIZ FERNANDO RIBEIRO, CC BY SA
The seven new species live on seven distinct mountaintops in south eastern Brazil. Their habitats are known as ‘cloud forests.’ Each species is cut off from one another due to dips and valleys with varying climates that act as environmental barriers.
Brachycephalus are a group of frogs known for their bright colors and miniscule size – some are the smallest terrestrial vertebrates on record (less than 1cm). Their tiny frog anatomy has shrunk to their size, but one thing has changed. These amphibians typically have three toes and two fingers, instead of the five toes and four fingers found in most frogs.
Their skin is what sets them apart. They vary in color and texture; some are rough and bumpy, while others are quite smooth. Their bright colors alert predators to the poisonous toxins in their skin. Those with brighter colors often reflect higher levels of the deadly chemical tetrodotoxin.
The severe isolation experienced by these frogs has produced 21 known species of Brachycephalus – and a new study has pushed that count to 28.
Marcio Pie, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil, led researchers into the remote misty rainforest in search of these tiny critters. Following extensive fieldwork, treacherous hikes, and hours of sifting through dirt and leaves, they found a surprising seven new species of Brachycephalus!