The first cave-dwelling centipede from southern China

November 13, 2018, Pensoft Publishers
A living specimen of the newly described species Australobius tracheoperspicuus. Credit: Hui-qin Ma

Chinese scientists recorded the first cave-dwelling centipede known so far from southern China. To the amazement of the team, the specimens collected during a survey in the Gaofeng village, Guizhou Province, did not only represent a species that had been successfully hiding away from biologists in the subterranean darkness, but it also turned out to be the very first amongst the order of stone centipedes to be discovered underground in the country.

Found by the team of Qing Li, Xuan Guo and Dr. Hui-ming Chen of the Guizhou Institute of Biology, and Su-jian Pei and Dr. Hui-qin Ma of Hengshui University, the new cavedweller is described under the name of Australobius tracheoperspicuus in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

The new is quite tiny, measuring less than 20 mm in total body length. It is also characterised with pale yellow-brownish colour and antennae comprised of 26 segments each. Similar to other cave-dwelling organisms which have evolved to survive away from sunlight, it has no eyes.

In their paper, the authors point out that Chinese centipedes and millipedes remain poorly known, where the statement holds particularly true for the fauna of stone centipedes: the members of the order Lithobiomorpha. As of today, there are only 80 species and subspecies of lithobiomorphs known from the country. However, none of them lives underground.

In addition, the study provides an identification key for all six of the genus Australobius recorded in China.

A holotype of the newly described species Australobius tracheoperspicuus (male). Credit: Hui-qin Ma
The cave where the new species (Australobius tracheoperspicuus) was discovered. Location: Gaofeng village, Guizhou Province, southwest China. Credit: Hui-qin Ma

Explore further: Two new species of stone centipedes found hiding in larch forests in China

More information: Qing Li et al, Australobius tracheoperspicuus sp. n., the first subterranean species of centipede from southern China (Lithobiomorpha, Lithobiidae), ZooKeys (2018). DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.795.28036

Related Stories

Four new dragon millipedes found in China

October 30, 2014

A team of speleobiologists from the South China Agriculture University and the Russian Academy of Sciences have described four new species of the dragon millipedes from southern China, two of which seem to be cave dwellers. ...

A kingdom of cave beetles found in Southern China

November 14, 2014

A team of scientists specializing in cave biodiversity from the South China Agricultural University (Guangzhou) unearthed a treasure trove of rare blind cave beetles. The description of seven new species of underground Trechinae ...

Recommended for you

Fish-inspired material changes color using nanocolumns

March 20, 2019

Inspired by the flashing colors of the neon tetra fish, researchers have developed a technique for changing the color of a material by manipulating the orientation of nanostructured columns in the material.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.