🪱 🌟The Glowing Millipede! 🌟 🪱

Been a while since I posted a crazy weird animal! Here's one I just heard about!

Let's first start with a video

And another one from Natgeo

These really cool millipedes belong to the Motyxia genus and they can be found in southern Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi, and the Santa Monica mountain ranges of California.

The genus is comprised of over 10 species and not surprisingly is best known for its bioluminescence, something super rare in the over 12 thousand recorded millipede species:

  • Motyxia alia
  • Motyxia bistipita
  • Motyxia kerna
  • Motyxia monica
  • Motyxia ollae
  • Motyxia pior
  • Motyxia porrecta
  • Motyxia sequoia
  • Motyxia sequoiae
  • Motyxia tiemanni
  • Motyxia tularea

All of the species can glow, some more, some less.

Motyxia sequoiae glows the brightest and Motyxia pior the dimmest[1]

The light is emitted across the whole exoskeleton and appendages (legs & antennae) and even the body rings. However, the internal organs and viscera do not participate in this.

Luminescence is generated by a biochemical process in the millipede's exoskeleton. The light originates by way of a photoprotein, which differs from the photogenic molecule luciferase in firefly beetles. [1]

Although we know the how, the why is still a mystery. A study for example found that it might be the result of an old mechanism that was used to combat environmental stress that was later repurposed to a form of aposematism, essentially a warning signal to predators that the creature is poisonous:

One study found Motyxia that glowed brighter also tended to have larger cyanide glands and were thus more toxic to predators. [1]

It may have initially evolved to cope with metabolic stress triggered by a hot, dry environment and was repurposed as a warning signal by species colonizing high-elevation habitats with greater predation risk. [2]

Anyways, as always purpose of the post is to share yet another beautiful wonder of nature that you probably haven't heard of! I could keep paraphrasing wikipedia writing more and more about these amazing creatures so here's a video instead:


As a sidenote, the only other known bioluminescent millipede species are Paraspirobolus lucifugus that can be found in Japan and Taiwan, and a few Rhinocricidae species.

Ok friends this is it for today! Hope you enjoyed discovering yet another weird creature with me. More coming soon 🤗

References & Further Reading

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Why do California’s Millipedes Glow?

More Strange Animals
If you enjoyed this post here are some more amazing creatures to check out:

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