Scientists have discovered a new genus and five new species of millipedes in the remote jungles of Tanzania in southeast Africa.
The millipedes were discovered while researchers were studying tree and vine growth in the Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania, according to the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.
Among the forest litter and loose soil, USC Professor Andy Marshall said his team found the millipedes, whose heads he described as looking like Star Wars characters.
"We record millipedes of all sizes during our fieldwork to measure forest recovery because they are great indicators of forest health, but we didn’t realise the significance of these species until the myriapodologists had assessed our specimens," Marshall said.
He noted that the newly discovered millipedes are a few centimeters long and had about 200 legs each.
The largest African millipedes can grow up to 35 centimeters, or nearly 14 inches, long. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the largest millipede species in North America is about half the length at 15 centimeters, or 6 inches, long.
Marshall noted that finding the new genus and species of millipedes demonstrates the amount left to discover in tropical forests.
According to the USC, the new millipede genus is called Udzungwastreptus, while the five new species are Lophostreptus magombera, Attemsostreptus cataractae, Attemsostreptus leptoptilos, Attemsostreptus julostriatus and Udzungwastreptus marianae.
The millipede specimens have been brought to the Natural History Museum at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.