Shocking Pink Dragon Millipede, Desmoxytes purpurosea

26 Sep 2010 20:58 - 22 Mar 2015 09:54 #426 by
The shocking pink dragon millipede

The Shocking Pink Dragon Millipede, otherwise less descriptively known as Desmoxytes purpurosea, is a spiny and toxic millipede aptly named for its bright pink color. It was "discovered" in Thailand in 2007 and introduced to science by Henrik Enghoff, Chirasak Sutcharit and Somsak Panha in that year.

It became a bit of a media cause célèbre when it was named third in the top ten new species in 2008 by the International Institute for Species Exploration and had its proverbial 15 minutes of fame by appearing in just about every newspaper worldwide.

These adult millipedes are approximately 3 cm long and live on limestone karsts and in the open on leaf litter. They have glands that produce hydrogen cyanide to protect them from predators and are reported to give off a smell of "almonds" when attacked.

They are quite easy to spot in the Karsts of Uthai Thani and these samples (click on Read more....) were found at a height of around 150 metres at the Khao Pla Ra site in Lan Sak.






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10 Aug 2012 10:01 - 10 Aug 2012 10:03 #514 by trekker
Over the last two years I have been making some observations about the site where we found the shocking pink dragon millipede as it seemed to disappear from the site in question for sometime.

These are not scientific observations, simply the observation of an amateur trying to work out something in a non-scientific way based on about 10 field visits. My assumptions about Dexymotes purpurosea are as follows:

1) It is only seen during the later stages of the rainy season. It may exist deep in leaf litter and soil during the dry season but it is not visible on the surface.

2) When it is visible, during the rainy season, it is seen in 90% of cases on wet limestone or fallen tree limbs. The limestone is visibly covered in an algae growth and the millipede seems to be feeding on this algae.

3) The bright pink colour form is only seen later in the rainy season. Early in the rainy season the specimens that are seen on the surface are a) smaller and b) of a faint pink hue. This is interesting in itself because in the zoo taxa submission by Henrik Enghoff, Chirasak Sutcharit and Somsak Panha, they note that they did not see non-adults of the species. Here are some pictures of what I believe to be sub-adults.

The oddity is that when sub-adults have been seen, by me, then ONLY sub-adults are present on the visible surface. This could mean that sub-adults develop their colour in adulthood, it could mean that sub-adults/adult forms come into existence in the early rainy season, it could mean there is a link between food available in the rainy season and the colour (maybe the algae).

I am planning a return trip in October at the height of the rains to hopefully photograph the adult at its "pinkest" - if my observations are correct of course :huh: . It will be an interesting trip as the karst is treacherous at this time of year and very difficult to climb due to the algae bloom making the rocks very slippery.

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12 Aug 2012 22:08 - 13 Aug 2012 13:58 #517 by Remevarie
Replied by Remevarie on topic thanks
I'm impressed! It's nice to see someone very passionate about what they do. Trust all your future posts turn out as well.Thanks!
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09 Oct 2012 18:35 - 09 Oct 2012 18:53 #574 by trekker
Replied by trekker on topic Re: thanks
I had my return trip (see note in my previous post about visiting in October to test some theories) to the site to check out some of my assumptions this last weekend, at the height of the rainy season. Conditions were treacherous and it is definitely a task climbing the karst in these conditions. I have the bruises to prove it. The findings are as follows:

1) The shocking pink dragon millipede was very visible higher up the karst at the height of the rainy season, we saw about 12 of them.

2) The full coloration was very evident, deep pinks and deep blacks. BUT we also saw two to the grey "sub-adults" also. So sub-adults and adults are visible at the same time which sort of throws out one of my theories.

3) The adults were found equally upon tree and liana limbs as they were on the limestone rocks.

4) We saw a mating pair, although I have to admit I had no idea until I saw in the photographs and conditions were dark up there and there is little contrast between the green and brown backgrounds and the pink millipedes. Camera focus was very difficult with the lack on contrast.

5) there are some specimens that are "pink on pink" and some that are "pink on black" not sure if it is a variation, a male/female thing or a later stage life cycle colouration.

Guess I will have to go back and see what is visible later in the year.

The mating pair........

A blaze of pink ....

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