This specimen provides the earliest evidence about the age of the order Callipodida, suggesting that this millipede group evolved at least some 100 million years ago. However, its morphology is drastically different from contemporary millipedes. As a result, Prof. Stoev together with his colleagues Dr. Thomas Wesener and Leif Moritz of the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (Germany) had to revise the current millipede classification and introduce a new suborder — one of only a handful of such cases in the last 50 years.
The anthropod was found amongst roughly 529 millipede specimens, but it was the only one of its order — its name reflects that. The generic epithet (Burmanopetalum) refers to the country of discovery (Myanmar, formerly Burma) and “inexpectatum” means “unexpected” in Latin.
“We are grateful to Patrick Müller, who let us study his private collection of animals found in Burmese amber and dated from the Age of Dinosaurs,” says co-author Dr. Thomas Wesener. “His is the largest European and the third largest in the world collection of the kind. We had the opportunity to examine over 400 amber stones that contain millipedes.”
” Many of them are now deposited at the Museum Koenig in Bonn, so that scientists from all over the world can study them. Additionally, in our paper, we provide a high-resolution computer-tomography images of the newly described millipede. They are made public through MorphBank, which means anyone can now freely access and re-use our data without even leaving the desk.”
The paper “Dwarfs under dinosaur legs: a new millipede of the order Callipodida (Diplopoda) from Cretaceous amber of Burma” has been published in the journal ZooKeys.