View Full Version : This Colourful Millipede Can Kill 18 Adult Birds

01-30-2018, 03:48 PM
This Colourful Millipede Can Kill 18 Adult Birds (ARTICLE LINK) (https://www.sciencealert.com/most-colourful-millipede-kill-bird-cyanide-defence)


Image: Marek et al.;

A newly discovered millipede has more colour combinations than any other millipede ever discovered -but its bright and striking colouring is a warning that attempting to dine on the arthropod may be biting off more than one can chew.

The multi-legged creature is called Apheloria polychroma. The species is found on the forest floor of Southwest Virginia's Cumberland Mountains, and its colourful carapace is coated with cyanide as a deterrent to predatory birds.

This is actually a fairly common defence mechanism among millipedes, and various species have demonstrated the secretion of hydrogen cyanide and benzoyl cyanide when disturbed.

They also release a host of other chemicals, such as mandelonitrile benzoate and benzaldehyde, both for defensive purposes and perhaps as an antibiotic.

How millipedes use their chemical weapons varies. Some passively ooze them from their glands, others roll up to squeeze them out, and others actively spray them at predators.

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01-30-2018, 03:49 PM
Do they work on peacocks?