Illacme plenipes is a millipede found in the central region of the U.S. state of California. Although no millipede has one thousand legs, Illacme plenipes comes the closest with one recorded specimen having 750 legs. On average they have over 600 legs, twice the average for millipede species. Despite having more legs than any other creature on Earth, it is actually quite small, even relative to other millipedes. Females grow to just over an inch; males are slightly smaller and have fewer legs.
The species was first discovered in San Benito County, part of the California Floristic Province, in 1926 by a government scientist . However, the species was not seen again until it was rediscovered almost eighty years later, in November 2005, by Paul Marek, a Ph.D. student at East Carolina University, as he was conducting research on millipede systematics and evolution in San Benito County . Marek published his discovery in the journal Nature .
- ^ Cook & Loomis (1928). "Millipedes of the order Colobognatha, with descriptions of six new genera and type species, from Arizona and California". Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. 72: 1–26, f. 1–6, pls. 1–2.
- ^ The Bond Lab, News and Events, East Carolina University, Accessed June 7, 2006
- ^ Paul E. Marek and Jason E. Bond, "Biodiversity hotspots: Rediscovery of the world's leggiest animal", Nature, June 8, 2006