What animal has the most legs?
Not many people like the little critters that crawl around out of sight. They have far too many legs, look far too unpleasant, and barely contribute anything to society. Which of them reigns supreme, though? What animal has the most legs?
If you have ever seen a centipede crawling around on the ground, you've probably experienced that little shiver claw its way up your spine.
They're creepy creatures covered in far too many legs and a strange scaled body that looks anything but attractive.
What you'd be interested to know, however, is that there is an animal out there that has more legs and is even creepier than the centipede.
So, what creature holds the animal world record for having the most legs? How many legs does it have, and why does it need so many? It might be a creepy crawly, but it's a pretty darn interesting bug.
What is the animal with the most legs in the world?
When asked what animal has the most legs, most people would answer either the centipede or millipede, and, in a way, they'd be right. The animal that holds the world record for most legs is a species of millipede called the eumillipes persephone.
First discovered in 2021 at a site in Western Australia, it was discovered that these creatures lived predominantly between 50 feet and 200 feet beneath the ground. The name, eumillipes, means "true millipede" in Latin and is a clear reference to the extraordinary number of legs that the bug possesses. The bug's second name, persephone, refers to the Greek queen of the underworld.
It is one of the most recently discovered animals on Earth, making it also one of the most extraordinary! The eumillipes persephone is proof that there is still plenty left to discover on the planet Earth.
How many legs does a millipede have?
The eumillipes persephone has 1,306 short legs, following the length of its 4-inch-long body on both sides. It's extremely unusual for an animal to have quite so many legs, as most have evolved to have longer legs rather than longer bodies. As such, its existence is seen as a glimmer of hope for global biodiversity.
Studies of the eumillipes persephone have revealed that the creature most likely feeds off of fungal tissue. While it has many legs and a very long body, it is extremely thin at about 1 millimeter in diameter. Born with only around four body segments, these millipedes grow to be the size they are; some adults are found to possess more than 330 body segments.
While it isn't known for sure, it's likely that the eumillipes persephone has been around for millions of years. That being said, even prehistoric millipedes have never been known to possess quite this many legs – imagine the cost of all those tiny little shoes!
Why are there so many millipede legs?
It is widely acknowledged that the many legs of the eumillipes persephone have evolved out of the creature's need to thrust forward and dig through dirt deep in the ground. As such, it uses its cone-shaped head and beaks to burrow, pushing with its thousands of legs and thrusting its body through the Earth with a great deal of efficiency.
These bugs are colorless though they may appear brown on account of the dirt, do not have eyes, and are thought to be completely harmless to human beings. They were likely driven underground by changing climate and surface temperatures millions of years ago. As such, they evolved to be extremely good at surviving deep under the Earth's surface.
The animal with the most legs is incredibly interesting
As creepy and unpleasant as your average millipede is, no matter the variety, you can't deny how interesting and strange it is as well! Few animals have a more bizarre and unusual characteristic than having more than a thousand legs, making us wonder how the heck such a creature can control all of its legs so accurately and how it could possibly have evolved into what it is today.
In the end, though, the one thing that doesn't surprise us about the eumillipes persephone is that such a monstrosity could come from the sunburned land we all know as Australia. After all, it's a pretty weird place down there!
Cover photo: 123RF/Alcarrera