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Centipedes caught in amber for 99 million years have the moment to shine

The newly described centipede (Burmanopetalum billectatum) is in amber.

Leif Moritz

A tiny millipede stuck in amber had 99 million years to think about its sticky condition. The insect did not have the opportunity to enjoy its exit party for 2019 as a scientific curiosity, but the rest of us can marvel at the remarkable specimen.

The centipede is caught in amber from the Cretaceous in Myanmar. The researchers found that the millipede is the first Callipodida fossil, but it was strange enough to ask for a new submission. It is now called "Burmanopetalum cheapatatum", the latter word meaning "unexpected" in Latin.

The researchers created this 3D model of centipedes.

Leif Moritz

The team created a 3D model of the 0.3-inch milliped (8.2 millimeters) to further examine its anatomy.

"Next-generation micro-computed tomography (Micro-CT) and its associated image rendering and processing software have enabled us to reconstruct the entire animal and observe minute morphological features rarely found in fossils" said zoologist Pavel Stoev from the National Museum of Natural History in Bulgaria.

Stoev is the lead author of a centipede newspaper published in the journal ZooKeys this week.

The Callipodida order of millipedes still exists today, with over 1

00 species crawling around the planet. This particular fossil was the only one of its order found among more than 500 centipedes encased in the same amber deposit.

The fossil arthropod expert, Greg Edgecombe of the Natural History Museum of London, welcomed Burmanopetalum cheapectatum in the club of the old amber-shrouded centipedes.

"In this 99-million-year-old amber, nearly all 16 live centipedal orders have been identified in recent years," said Edgecombe.

Congratulations, little centipede, you are a pioneering agent for your order.

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