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Wikimedia Commons

Earth’s Deepest-Dwelling Centipede Discovered in Croatia

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

A tiny centipede has just set an underground world record. It’s also been given a name with hellish connotations.

Recently discovered by an international team of researchers, the new species was found in a trio of central Croatian caves. One specimen is especially remarkable, having appeared some 3,600 feet beneath the Earth’s surface. This is the deepest a live centipede has ever been found.

In homage to Hades, the scientists dubbed their creature Geophilus hadesi. In doing so, they winked at its close relative, Geophilus persephones. A predator with similar habits, G. persephones was discovered some 16 years earlier and named after Persephone, the abducted queen of the god of the underworld. But while Hades’ wife regularly went above ground, these two never leave their cavernous habitat.

Members of the Geophilus genus belong to a large centipede subgroup called the geophilomorphs, which are found on every continent but Antarctica. Zoologists have identified more than a thousand species, and all of them are well adapted for subterranean living. (For one thing, they're all sightless.) However, only G. hadesi and G. persephones dwell exclusively in caves throughout their entire lives. 

Along with virtually all centipedes, G. hadesi is a carnivore. Using venomous glands, the inch-long assassin likely subdues and eats springtails (tiny, insect-like hexapods), worms, woodlice, spiders and other small prey, according to LiveScience. Despite its extreme niche, special traits allow this particular centipede to survive and thrive. For instance, a pair of unusually long antennae ease the task of navigating over lightless terrain. Its body segments and leg claws have been similarly extended.

Lead author Pavel Stoev sees the discovery as a humbling reminder. “This finding,” he says, “comes to prove once again how little we know about the life in caves, where even in the best prospected areas, one can still find incredible animals."

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History
When Chuck Yeager Tweeted Details About His Historic, Sound Barrier-Breaking Flight

Seventy years ago today—on October 14, 1947—Charles Elwood Yeager became the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. The Air Force pilot broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane (nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis”) over a California dry lake at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

In 2015, the nonagenarian posted a few details on Twitter surrounding the anniversary of the achievement, giving amazing insight into the history-making flight.

For even more on the historic ride, check out the video below.

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Mrs. John Herschel, Wikimedia Commons
8 Stellar Facts About the Most Accomplished Female Astronomer You’ve Never Heard Of
Mrs. John Herschel, Wikimedia Commons
Mrs. John Herschel, Wikimedia Commons

Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) was a German woman who made great contributions to science and astronomy. 

1. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO DISCOVER A COMET.

Herschel spotted the comet (called 35P/Herschel-Rigollet) in December of 1788. Because its orbital period is 155 years, 35P/Herschel-Rigollet will next be visible to humans in the year 2092.

2. SHE INITIALLY WORKED AS A HOUSEKEEPER.

In her early twenties, Herschel moved from Germany to England to be a singer. Her brother William (the astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus and infrared radiation) gave her singing lessons, and she was his housekeeper. She later became his assistant, grinding and polishing the mirrors for his telescopes.

3. BUT SHE LATER TURNED HER REAL PASSION INTO A PAYING GIG.

Herschel was the first female scientist to ever be paid for her work. Starting in 1787, King George III paid her £50 per year to reward her for her scientific discoveries.

4. SHE WAS TECHNICALLY A LITTLE PERSON.

Herschel was only 4 feet 3 inches tall—her growth was stunted due to typhus when she was 10 years old.

5. SHE BROKE BARRIERS, EARNING RESPECT FROM THE HERETOFORE MALE-ONLY SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY.

Herschel was the first woman to receive a Gold Medal from London’s Royal Astronomical Society, in 1828. The second woman to receive one was well over 150 years later, in 1996.

6. SHE CHEATED AT MATH ... KIND OF.

Because Herschel was female and thus wasn’t allowed to learn math as a child, she used a cheat sheet with the multiplication tables on it when she was working.

7. EARTH'S MOON HONORS HER LEGACY.

By NASA / LRO_LROC_TEAM [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A crater on the moon is named in honor of Herschel—it’s called C. Herschel. The small crater is located on the west side of Mare Imbrium, one of the moon's large rocky plains.

8. SHE GARNERED AWARDS WELL INTO HER NINETIES.

For her 96th birthday, Prussian King Frederick William IV authorized that Herschel receive an award: the Gold Medal for Science.

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