After 143 years, an amphibious centipede found in Japan- Erakina


The newly found amphibious centipede.
It was found in Japan and is more than 20cm in length.

Have you ever seen a jade coloured centipede that is longer than your hand, crawling on two dozen legs and inflicting goosebumps on your skin? 

Centipedes have always caused a feeling of unease in me. They might be crawling on the floor but I feel it’s moving on my flesh..!!..

Well, a newfound species of centipede in Japan has added another amphibious natured creature to the list. 

But let me tell you that it’s only the third amphibious Scolopendra species in the world..!!.. This 20cm long and 2cm wide centipede has become the largest centipede species in Japan and Taiwan. 

Let’s have a detailed knowledge of this record-breaking centipede…

Who’s the newbie? 

The family of Scolopendridae consists of the genus Scolopendra which encompasses giant tropical centipedes. Around 100 species can be found around the world. They are predominantly located in tropical and subtropical countries like North Africa, Southeast Asia, North or Central America and the Mediterranean. 

The newbie is the species of an amphibious, large centipede, recently discovered on the islands in the archipelago of Japan. 

The Ryukyu Islands in Japan.
The islands have these giant centipedes.

Scientists have been successful in identifying a centipede species after 143 years, on the Ryukyu Islands in Japan.

What’s in the name? 

The newly discovered species of centipede has been given the name Scolopendra Alcyona. The story behind this 20 legged centipede is quite interesting and scary…

The name S.Alcyona has been derived from Alcyona, a cursed woman in Greek mythology. She was cursed by the Gods because she compared herself to the Goddess Hera. Due to the curse, she transformed into a ‘halcyon bird’, now famously known as a Kingfisher. 

The centipede’s scientific name means a kingfisher.

The centipede found slithering through the waters had legs of jade-green colour which were comparable with the colour of the legs of a kingfisher. So, this inspired the researchers to name the centipede S.Alcyona. 

The Japanese name is Ryujinomukade which has its roots in mythology. According to the local stories revolving around the Ryukyu Islands, hundreds of years ago people painted their boats with pictures of centipedes on flags to ward off a dragon God named Ryujin. It is believed that it fears the centipede after being bitten once. 

The discrepancy with others in the family  

While being searched for in Japan, some of the S.Alcyona were found under the stones in streambeds while some escaped their finders by sliding in the water currents. 

Giant Centipede.
The centipede’s scientific name means a kingfisher.

Generally, slight variations among the family are helpful to the scientists to differentiate between the species but this centipede was a hard nut to crack. Some of the morphological differences found in deep studies have shown the following things:- 

  • There is a spur on the 20th leg pair.
  • The specialised legs used for the transfer of sperm to the females are missing in this species.
  • Molecular data of the Alcyona has also helped to distinguish. 

The verdict of the scientist 

The main scientist involved in this research is Katsuyuki Eguchi, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Science at Tokyo Metropolitan University. He is the study co-author in this entire exploration work. 

Though he is enthralled by this successful venture he is more concerned about the loss of such indigenous species of plants and animals. He is worried about the loss of species before scientists and researchers can reach them. 

The main issue is the dwindling population of every species due to their habitat loss. Many such species are still out there which haven’t been identified and rescued. 

About the giant Alcyona centipede, he is worried about the practice and fondness of keeping them as pets. Although they are difficult to nurture and sustain in confinement, still they are much sought after by pet owners.  

The scientists believe that their discovery will motivate and enlighten people about biodiversity and environmental protection. A better future of nature is being expected by the researchers. 

Some lines…  

“Save Nature before it worsens,

Preserve the globe, not after it gets sunken;

Come let’s mend our faults together,

Or face the wrath of the Earth, our preserver…”


Content Writer (Erakina By RTMN)


Tags: Centipede, giant

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