Wednesday 5 March 2014

A new species of Geophilomorph Centipede from Cretaceous Burmese amber.

Centipedes (Myripoda) are carnivorous terrestrial Arthropods with elongate, multi-segmented bodies, having one pair of legs per body segment. The number of legs varies highly, from under 20 to over 300, though the number of pairs is always odd. The first pair of limbs is modified to form a pair of venomous forcipules (claws) used to subdue prey. There are around 3000 described species of extant centipedes, and it is though that the current number of species in existence is over 8000, though most of these are very small. Centipedes are thought to have been among the first Animal species to colonise the land, with a fossil record that dates back to the Late Silurian, around 430 million years ago. Ground (or Geophilomorph) Centipedes are small soil dwelling Centipedes, the most abundant group of Centipedes in modern ecosystems. They have a fossil record dating back to at least the Late Jurassic, with some fossils from the Carboniferous possibly belonging to this group.

In a paper published in the journal Palaeontology in January 2014, Lucio Bonato of the Dipartmento bi Biologia at the University of Padova, Gregory Edgecombe of the Department of Earth Sciences at the Natural History Museum and Alessandro Minelli, also of the Dipartimento di Biologia at the University of Padova, describe a new species of Centipede from the Late Cretaceous of Kachin State in the northeast of Myanmar (Burma).

The species is named Kachinophilus pereirai, where Kachinophilus means 'Geophilomorph from Kachin' and pereirai honours Luis Pereira, of the Museo de la Plata, an expert on Geophilomorph Centepedes. The species is described from four specimens preserved in amber from the Late Cretaceous of Kachin State, thought to be 98.79 million years old. Only one of the specimens is assigned a sex (male); this specimen being 21 mm in length with 43 leg-bearing segments.

Kachinophilus pereirai (A,B) Male specimen, complete body, in dorsal (A) and ventral (B) views. (C) Second specimen sex unknown, complete body, dorsal view. (D) Third specimen (only anterior part), ventral view. All scale bars 1 mm. Abbreviations: an, antenna; fo, forcipule; le-1, leg of the first pair; le-u, leg of the ultimate pair. Bonato et al. (2014).