In the depths of caves found in the Velebit mountains of Croatia lives Hades, the centipede that rules its dark and cold kingdom.
As you may have guessed, the centipede takes its name after the mythological Hades, god of the frightening underworld. Formally named Geophilus Hadesi, the centipede is the newest member of the Geophilomorpha order.
Yet, unlike other centipedes in this order, Hades takes to the cold and dark depths of the Velebit mountains caves as its habitat of choice. Hades does have a brethren species of the same order, Persephone or Geophilus persephones, discovered in France back in the 1990s.
Being the second species that dwells so far underground, the centipede got all the attention required from the researchers who managed to bring it in the spotlight. A detailed description of Hades appears in the ZooKeys journal.
Like Persephone, Hades never leaves its cavernous home. The caves of Velebit mountains, Croatia are the centipede’s home. Here, at a depth of 3,609 feet where one specimen was collected, Hades feeds on living bodies.
Whatever happens to be in the vicinity ends up as a good source of nourishment for the king of the underworld. Larvae, woodlice, springtails, spiders or worms are all on Hades’s menu.
Pavel Stoev, lead author of the paper describing the centipede and associate professor of zoology at the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia stated that Hades detects its prey thanks to its setae covered body and the elongated antennae that end its body.
Dwelling in absolute darkness, these features make for a good food source radar. Hades’s bite is venomous, but to humans that is no danger as the centipede lives so deep underground that even entering its realm does not bring about too much chances of spotting it.
A team from the Croatian Bio-speological Society exploring the Velebit mountains caves in search for the centipede discovered just how remote and unreachable the crevices where Hades lives are.
For the researchers, it was hard to get to the centipede. But for the species which has a long and flattened body paired with 33 pairs of unusually elongated legs, roaming the rocky crevices is a piece of cake.
Geophilus Hadesi or Hades, king of the cavernous underworld of Velebit mountains caves is an extraordinary discovery which, with further analysis might shed light on what prompted just two species of the order to take to these harsh environments.
Image Source: cbc.ca