First the first time ever, a team of international scientists have just mapped the genome of a centipede, and they discover that it lacks genes for sight and body clock, yet it detects light and regulates internal clock by some means.

A team of international researchers from 12 countries mapped the genome sequencing of the venomous European centipede, Strigamia maritima, and discovered that the centipede not only beats humans with its abundant legs, it also beats humans with its ability to detect light without any gene for lights or sight, and its ability to regulate body clock without any genes for circadian rhythm.

Researchers are interested in analyzing the genome or genetic sequencing of the Strigamia maritima because it is an arthropod that alongside insects left water for land several thousand years ago, and its evolution to living on land would shed some light on how life began on Earth and how organisms are able to evolve over time to adapt to challenges of living in their present habitats on land.

An assistant professor of Human Genome Sequencing at Baylor, Dr. Stephen Richards states that the Strigamia maritime centipede is the first myriapod and the last of four groups of arthropods to undergo genome sequencing. He explains that “Arthropods are particularly interesting for scientific study because they diverged into more species than any other animal group as they adapted in many ways to conquer the planet. The genome of the myriapod in comparison with previously completed genomes of the other arthropod classes gives us an important view of the evolutionary changes of these exciting species.”

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Arthropods have been around for millions of years, but researchers find that the centipede has remained largely unchanged during this length of time in terms of body features and body functions. But more surprising is its ability to detect lights without any light receptor genes, sense chemicals without the ability to smell or taste them, and also locate underground holes where it lives without any sights. This centipede was also found lack circadian rhythm, the genetic ability for the body to regulate sleep and know the timings of the day from the night, but it appears the European centipede uses some other system to monitor its own body clock.

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The body of this research was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute to Baylor College of Medicine’s Human Genome Sequencing Center, and published in the journal PLOS Biology.


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