New millipede species
GS PAPER II: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Context: A new species of millipede, just 3 millimetres long, has been discovered from a sacred groves in Kannur.
- The species has been discovered in a grove named Thekkumbadu Koolom Thazhekavu. The 20-hectare grove is located on an inland island, surrounded by mangroves.
- “These millipedes dwell under the rotting plant debris in the moist soil of the grove.
- Its body is pale pink and possesses 20 segments in males and 19 segments in females. The eyeless millipede is characterized by 34 pairs of pale yellow legs. They sense their surroundings with a pair of very small but specialised antenna.
Boosting soil fertility
- These millipedes consume fallen leaf litter, and may process some 15%-20% of calcium input into the soil. Hence they play an important role in increasing soil fertility.
- The presence of this slow dispersal organism is further evidence of the connection between India and Sri Lanka.
- This finding is also important as no progress has been made in the study of indigenous millipedes in India since the studies during the colonial period. So far, only 57 species of millipedes have been found in Kerala, all discovered before Independence.