Hades centipede, deepest cave-dwelling centipede, discovered by scientists

Scientists have found a new type of centipede living far below the earth's surface. The critter has been named after the Greek god of the underworld.

Hades centipede found living as deep as 1,100 metres below Earth's surface

The Hades centipede, or Geophilus hadesi, was named after the god of the underworld in Greek mythology. (J. Bedek)

Scientists have found the deepest cave-dwelling centipede and named it after the Greek god of the underworld.

The Hades centipede, or Geophilus hadesi, lives in three caves in Croatia's Velebit mountains. Scientists recorded the centipede living as far as 1,100 metres below the surface.

Members of the Croatian Biospeleological Society, which works on research and conservation of the country's underground species, found the centipede and published their results in the journal ZooKeys.

A top predator in the caves

"When I first saw the animal and its striking appearance, I immediately realized that this is a new, hitherto unnamed and highly adapted to cave environment species," said Pavel Stoev, the study's lead author, in a statement.

"This finding 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."

The centipede has "exceptionally elongated antennae, trunk segments and leg claws," the paper reads. It's among the cave's top predators and has poison glands and long, curved claws.

The scientists found four specimens of this type of centipede when exploring three caves in the mountains, but they were only able to collect three.

One was gathered at about 250 metres below the surface, another about 500 metres below the surface and the last about 980 metres below the surface. The Hades centipede located at about 1,100 metres below the surface was unreachable.

In Greek mythology, Hades is also the husband of Persephone, the queen of the underworld. There is also a Persephone centipede, which — along with Hades — is one of the only two known geophilomorphs that only live in caves.

The pair "rightfully [bear] the titles of a queen and king of the underworld," a statement announcing the new centipede reads.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?