Researchers in Japan have discovered a new amphibious centipede species that live around streams and attack freshwater prawns for meals. The creature measures around 8-inches in length with a terrifying jade-colored appearance, and it holds the distinction of being the largest (known) centipede in Taiwan and Japan.
The discovery was made by researchers with Hosei University and Tokyo Metropolitan University after reports of a centipede that was attacking freshwater prawns in rivers in the Ryukyu Archipelago. After collecting samples of this critter, the researchers used genetic testing to confirm it is a new amphibious centipede species.
The scientists have named the new centipede species Scolopendra alcyona Tsukamoto & Shimano after Alcyone, the figure in Greek mythology that Zeus turned into a kingfisher. Likewise, the species has been given the Japanese name ryujin-ômukade after local mythology about a dragon god that suffered from a centipede that crawled into its ear.
This particular variety of giant centipede likes to hang around streams where it hunts for food in freshwater. As such, the ryujin-ômukade is the third known amphibious centipede in the world and the first discovered in Japan in 143 years — noting, of course, that there are approximately 100 different Scolopendra centipede species.
The researchers note that this particular amphibious centipede lives in forested environments near streams where humans aren’t around — and, despite that, the species is thought to likely be endangered. Efforts will be taken to preserve the centipede species’ environment while studying them to learn more.