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Why do millipedes have so many legs?

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From its Latin roots, the word ‘millipede‘ translates to ‘thousand feet,’ but out of the 12,000 described species of millipedes, we’ve yet to discover one with that many. In fact, when millipedes hatch from their eggs, they have only six or eight legs. So how might this detritivore end up with 650-750 legs? And how old are they?

Anna Rothschild talks with Virginia Tech Assistant Professor Paul Marek and his team to find out in this super-leggy episode of Anna’s Science Magic Show Hooray! See baby millipedes, glowing millipedes, gassy millipedes, and millipedes that smell like cherry cola.

Marek also isn’t convinced that we’ve found the leggiest millipede out there, so go look under some boulders. And take a UV flashlight with you. You just might discover a 20-year-old millipede, some glow-in-the-dark millipedes, or maybe even a brand new species.

Check out Marek’s blog at, and read more about Illacme plenipes at

Plus, watch more of Anna’s Science Magic Show Hooray! on YouTube.

And on TKSST from Brain Scoop: Millipedes, The First Land Animals. Plus: More bioluminescence, more detritivores, and Dead stuff – The secret ingredient in our food chain.

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