Под землей Калифорнии живут существа, о которых не знали
2023-07-20 Local news

There are creatures living underground in California that we didn't know about

Pale, eyeless and with 500 legs. In Orange County's Whiting Ranch Park, researchers have discovered a new species of creature that lives in the soil.

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They called it Illacme socal.

Scientists funded by the National Science Foundationhave solved the mystery of these thriving millipedes that live in the soil and play an important role in California's ecosystem.

The 18 million people who live in the region are not even aware of the existence of Illacme socal. After all, they never come to the surface. However, these animals are important "eco-engineers" of the underworld. Illacme socal break down rotting material from plants, fungi and other sources. And provide nutrients for new life to grow.

Researcher Paul Marek of Virginia Tech University's Department of Entomology found specimens of these creatures in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park (under an oak tree crown and humus layer) and Eaton Canyon in California. Marek believes these species probably once lived in other parts of Los Angeles. But infrastructure development has led to the loss of their habitat.

According to scientists, our planet is home to an impressive number of arthropods, between 4 and 6 million species, including millipedes. This diversity is undoubtedly fascinating. But unfortunately, only about 1 million arthropod species have been scientifically described so far.

Photographs of live Illacme socal. Author: Paul Marek, Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech University.
Photographs of live Illacme socal. Author: Paul Marek, Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech University.

"Studying and cataloging millipedes and other species that live in and feed on the ground beneath us can help us make informed decisions to conserve biodiversity on this planet. And also help preserve the environment that people depend on," says Marek.

Illacme socal have opened up a new world and reminded us of the hidden wealth of diversity that can be found beneath our feet. Conserving this species will be an important step in preserving nature and maintaining ecological balance in California.

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