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This Perfectly Preserved Millipede Has Been Trapped in Amber for 99 Million Years

The recently-discovered creature was so strange, scientists had to create an entirely new suborder of the species.

Scientists have come across a tiny millipede of around 8.2 millimeters in length, perfectly preserved in Cretaceous-era amber in Myanmar.

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Revealing a creature that co-existed with Dinosaurs

The above images show the creature as a whole, as well as in close focus of some of its significant body parts. Image Credit: Stoev, Moritz & Wesener.
The above images show the creature as a whole, as well as in close focus of some of its significant body parts. Image Credit: Stoev, Moritz & Wesener.

Using the latest research technologies, scientists concluded that not only were they handling the first fossil millipede of the order ‘Callipodida’, and also the smallest among their contemporary relatives but that their morphology was so unusual that it deviated drastically from their contemporary relatives.

Using 3D X-ray microscopy, the scientists were able to construct a virtual model of the 0.3-inch-long specimen, which allowed them to fully understand its skeleton, its unusual internal anatomy as well as its healthy abundance of tiny legs.

The tiny create preserved in amber. Image Credit: Leif Moritz.
The tiny create preserved in amber. Image Credit: Leif Moritz.

The findings appear in the open access journal ‘ZooKeys’.

Stranger than Strange

In fact, the 99-million-year-old millipede was so unusual that scientists were forced to create an entirely new suborder in the current tree of millipede classification, Pavel Stoev, a researcher at Bulgaria’s National Museum of Natural History and the study’s lead author, revealed in a statement.

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“With the next-generation micro-computer tomography (micro-CT) and the associated image rendering and processing software, we are now able to reconstruct the whole animal and observe the tiniest morphological traits which are rarely preserved in fossils,” said Stoev.

The newly described millipede Burmanopetalum inexpectatum as seen under 3D X-ray microscopy. Image Credit: Leif Moritz.
The newly described millipede Burmanopetalum inexpectatum as seen under 3D X-ray microscopy. Image Credit: Leif Moritz.

Given the surprising revelations made after scientists studied the creature, they decided to name it Burmanopetalum inexpectatum, with the latter word translating into “unexpected” in Latin.

“It came as a great surprise to us that this animal cannot be placed in the current millipede classification,” Stoev revealed in a statement.