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World's LEGGIEST BLONDE is super-rare millipede living in SF

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Vid The world's leggiest animal has been rediscovered in California, the extremely rare millipede Illacme plenipes.

It's often assumed that a centipede has 100 legs and a millipede has 1,000. But in fact centipedes can have hundreds of tiny pins and there is no known millipede with as many as 1,000 legs.

One species of millipede has up to 750 limbs, making it the creature with the most legs on Earth, and that's the sand-coloured I. plenipides, literally meaning "in highest fulfilment of feet". That millipede hasn't been seen since 1928 and was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 2005 by Paul Marek of the University of Arizona.

The females are the ones with the most legs, while the males have a maximum of 562. The appendages aren't just for kicks though: they're probably a result of adaptation for a life spend burrowing underground and hanging off the sandstone boulders Marek first found them on.

"This relict species is the only representative of its family in the Western Hemisphere. Its closest presumed relative, Nematozonium filum, lives in South Africa and this early relationship was established more than 200 million years ago when the continents coalesced in the landmass Pangaea," he said.

As well as the astounding number of extremities, I. plenipes also has other surprising anatomical features, such as body hairs that produce silk; a jagged scaly translucent exoskeleton; and comparatively gigantic antennae that make up for the creature's blindness.

The rare millipede is limited to just a small area on the outskirts of Silicon Valley. The description of the animal was published today in ZooKeys. ®

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