Science

Turns out, the “Beast” is a bug.

Okay, maybe not “a bug” in the purest sense of the word and no, not even an insect. I’m putting that out there because I know what a bunch of sticklers I have in my readership, including (at least) one super hot tattooed entymologist.

No, it turns out that the Beast of the Apocolypse is a millipede, recently rediscovered by researchers in California. The LiveScience headline reads “666-Legged Creature Rediscovered,” and my BS detector immediately started blaring, which can be rather disruptive at work. Millipedes don’t have a set number of legs — they get more as they grow and add segments to their squirmy little bodies, so it’s meaningless to pinpoint an exact number like that without qualifying that it’s an average, or a maximum or a minimum.

In this case, the researchers found seven specimens, the longest of which — a female, which tends to be larger – apparently had 666 legs. I say “apparently” because they don’t list how many legs each specimen has and they don’t even show a picture of the girl with 666. They just say “the females, as in [sic] turned out, were not only longer at about 1.3 inches, but also had up to 666 legs.” The video shows a female with 662 legs. The 666 figure isn’t even significant as a maximum, though — this species has been identified in the past as having up to 750 legs, and researchers are wondering if the size a female can grow is limitless.

So what’s with the headline? Debuting the day after 06/06/2006, it looks like someone figured out how to get a science article on the front page of, say, the Huffington Post. And blogged about.

Let’s hope there’s no such thing as bad publicity, when Pat Robertson starts frothing at the mouth to encourage his audience to boycott biological research for fear that a giant centipede will destroy the world. I hope we have enough quarters.

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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9 Comments

  1. I personally want to help fund any research, about insects or otherwise, that has the potential to make Pat Robertson froth at the mouth. In fact I tend to use Pat as a dipstick to tell me when a cause is worth investing in. (I usually just support every idea Pat dislikes). The more he dislikes something the more I find myself apt to like it. The day I see Pat's head spin in circles with pea soup shooting out I think I'll have found a cause truely worthy of my support.

    In other news, yesterday wasn't exactly a slow news day, you would think news outlets wouldn't have to resort to this sorta garbage on a day like that.

  2. Pat Robertson could feed the beastie crawlers his magic milk shakes and get them to leg press 2000 pounds with each set of pseudo legs. Then they could become an instrument of god, crushing all the infidels in their path.

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