Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University and Hosei University have discovered a new species of large tropical centipede from the genus Scolopendra in Okinawa and Taiwan. Researchers from the university write about this in their scientific article.
It is only the third identified centipede amphibian in the world, and is the largest in the region, measuring 20 cm long and almost 2 cm thick. It is also the first new centipede discovered in Japan in 143 years, testifying the archipelago’s incredible biodiversity. Ryukyu.
Scolopendra is a genus of large tropical centipedes, one of the original genera named by the father of modern taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus. They are predators in any soil ecosystems in which they live, there are about 100 different species found in tropical regions around the world. Of these, only five have been identified in Japan and Taiwan.
Scientists were thrilled when news broke of an unknown species of centipede seen around the Ryukyu archipelago that reportedly attacked giant freshwater shrimp. A team led by Sho Tsukamoto, his scientific advisor, Associate Professor Katsuyuki Eguchi from Tokyo Metropolitan University, and Professor Satoshi Shimano from Hossei University, went in search and identification of this mysterious creature.
It turned out that they had discovered a completely new species. Genetic analysis confirmed that it was different from other scolopendra inhabiting the region. It is the largest centipede species found in Japan and Taiwan. With a beautiful jade-colored shell, it was named Scolopendra alcyona Tsukamoto & Shimano after the Greek mythological character Alcyone, who was transformed by Zeus into a kingfisher. Its new Japanese name ryujin-ômukade also has mythological origins as a tribute to the region where the animal was found. Local myths say that the dragon god, or ryujin, was in agony because a centipede got into his ear. They say that when he saw a chicken quickly devouring a centipede, God became afraid of both centipedes and chickens. During the Ryukyu Kingdom, people painted chickens on their boats and raised the centipede flag to strike fear into the dragon gods and cross the sea safely.