DENVER — Who knows what might be crawling around deep in the crevice of a dark cave? Scientists have a pretty solid idea, and now they have four new species to add to that list.
David Steinmann, a research associate with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, has just identified four new species of millipede in Colorado caves, according to a news release from the museum.
After two decades of research, the new species were found living in caves throughout the state, some only 4 mm long and as thin as dental floss, which are some of the smallest millipedes on earth.
These newly identified millipedes are part of a new genus named Coloradesmus because they are only known from Colorado, the release read.
Here is more information regarding the newly-discovered species as provided by the Denver Museum of Nature & Science:
- One of the new millipedes—Coloradesmus manitou—is from the famous Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. David Hubbard from Virginia helped discover this new species.
- The second new cave millipede—Coloradesmus beckleyi—was named in honor of Steve Beckley, the owner of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs. Beckley introduced countless people to great caving experiences at Glenwood Caverns and he advocates for cave protection. At 4 mm long and as thin as dental floss, these are some of the smallest millipedes on earth.
- The third new species was named Coloradesmus warneri in honor of Ed Warner, an avid environmentalist who is also known for his contributions to Colorado State University and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Steinmann discovered these tiny millipedes in 2009 on Larimer County Open Space while crawling around a tight, wet cave outside Fort Collins.
- The fourth new species was named Coloradesmus hopkinsae in honor of Kay Hopkins with the U.S. Forest Service White River National Forest for her dedication to cave conservation and preservation. Steinmann and Hubbard discovered this species in five U.S. Forest Service caves.