For over a century, thousands of toxic millipedes flocked to railroad tracks in Japan’s thick forested mountains, stopping trains. These “millipedes of trains”, called famous obstacles, appear frequently and then disappear again over the years. Now scientists understand why.
These turned out Millipede (((Parafontaria laminata armigera), Unique to Japan, has an unusually long, synchronized eight-year life cycle. Such long “regular” life cycles in which populations of animals move through stages of life at the same time have previously been identified in only a few species. cicada Not only in the 13 and 17 year life cycle, but also in bamboo and some other plants.
“This millipede is the first non-insect arthropod of all periodical cicadas,” said Hitoshi Yoshimura, an emeritus professor of mathematics and system engineering at Shizuoka University, who has been studying periodical cicadas for the past two years. I am. Decades.
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Japanese train operators first observed the outbreak of millipedes in 1920. They had to temporarily stop the train while waiting for the creepy crawlers to cross the railroad tracks. According to various reports, the millipede then returned about every eight years, forming a dense blanket that could not be passed through each time. In 1977, the lead author, Keiko Niijima, a researcher at the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, first proposed an eight-year cycle.
Currently, Niijima, Momoka Arai, and Yoshimura of the Department of Mathematics and Systems Engineering, Shizuoka University are confirming the life cycle using past outbreak reports and detailed investigations. For many years, the author collected millipedes from the mountains of Honshu, Japan, and studied creatures. Because they are unique to the age of millipedes, they determined their life stages by counting the number of leg and body parts.
Researchers have found that multiple herds of this population each have their own synchronization. In other words, one chick may be in the egg stage, while another may be a grown adult. Each population circulates throughout its life cycle in eight years.
A flock of millipedes that appear regularly on the railroad tracks means that they have no affinity for the railroad tracks or are destructive. Rather, insects are sometimes just trying to go to the feeding grounds on the other side of the railroad tracks. Yoshimura told Live Science that it was a coincidence that railroads were an “obstacle” to traveling to new feeding grounds. To survive, the millipedes of these trains devour dead and rotten leaves sandwiched between the soil and the fresh leaves on the surface, according to Yoshimura.
Adults and the seventh larva (pre-adult stage) quickly devour all the food available where they were born, as they live so much. So they start trekking to move to a new feeding area, he said. In that second place, they eat rotten leaves, mate with each other, lay new batches of eggs, and die later.
Researchers hypothesize that their long life cycle can be synchronized with hibernation. Unlike periodic cicadas, which appear in large numbers and thus reduce the likelihood that each individual will succumb to predators, these train millipedes do not require additional protection from predators. They already have a pretty good defense mechanism: when attacked, they release toxic cyanide, the researchers said.
The findings were published in the journal on January 13th. Royal Society Open Science..
Originally published in Live Science.
The mystery of a huge millipede swarm that stops the train has been solved
Source link The mystery of a huge millipede swarm that stops the train has been solved