The many-legged millipede. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Here’s a round-up of briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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A record for millipede legs

 Even though the Latin derived millipede moniker (mille “thousand” and pes “foot”) suggests they all have 1,000 legs, one recently described by a Virginia Tech entomologist is the first one ever found to actually have that many. 

This many-legged subterranean arthropod, Eumillipes persephone, was discovered nearly 200 feet below the arid, rocky, Goldfields-Esperance region in Western Australia. The millipede is described as being colorless, eyeless, and less than half an inch wide. Though the males of the species were discovered with as many as 818 legs, a female specimen walked all over that record with an incredible 1,306 legs. Living so deep under the surface scientists can only speculate what this creature does day to day in all that darkness, but it likely spends most of its time eating fungus.

“We’re finding that many new millipede species are living in the deep soil which is a microhabitat that was previously believed to be devoid of life,” said Paul Marek, an associate professor in the Department of Entomology in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in a statement from Virginia Tech. He led the team that described and named this record-breaking critter.

Prior to the discovery of E. persephone, a California millipede, Illacme plenipes, held the record at 750 legs. Now those begrudgingly written statements clarifying the ‘millipede’ misnomer can be stricken from science textbooks worldwide.

Eumillipes persephone was discovered as part of a biodiversity survey performed alongside mineral exploration. The Goldfields-Esperance region is resource-rich, but a tough location for most animals to survive. With no rivers, sandy soil, and salt-rich groundwater, the region is inhospitable and apparently infertile. None the less, life exists even in these more extreme environments.

While mining companies were scouting for minerals deep below the surface using boreholes, surveyors employed by the companies to conduct mandated surveys used traps baited with decomposing leaves which are placed at different depths within the hole. These biological surveys are used to learn if mining activity in the area may impact any life below the surface. Bruno Buzatto who works at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia found this incredible millipede and immediately contacted Paul Marek.

Marek’s research focuses on what millipedes tell us about evolution, the environment they live in, and what that might mean for us. This work has taken him all around the globe, from the Pacific-Asian region to the East Coast of the United States and many places in between. He is looking for new millipede species, but also examining where they live, what they eat, and how they survive. Last year he discovered a new species at Virginia Tech’s Duck Pond and named it Nannaria hokie.

Jackson Means, who graduated with his Ph.D. in Marek’s lab, was primarily responsible for the hands-on genetic work with E. persephone. He extracted the DNA from E. persephone specimens and prepared them to have their genomes sequenced. Scientists use genetic sequencing to better understand the evolutionary biology of organisms, and to figure out where they come from.

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The new Appalachian School of Law logo

Appalachian School of Law has new brand

The Applachian School of Law in Grundy has a new logo as part of a branding campaign.

A statement from the school describes the logo this way: ” The outside shield symbolizes the duty of lawyers to protect the weak and defend the vulnerable.  The mountains remind us that justice is an ancient and abiding human aspiration.  The iconic spire reorients our gaze to the high value of learning.  Both green, representing new growth, and gray, symbolizing virtuous tradition, are harmonized — the future with the past — in the iconic ASL spire.”

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Washington and Lee holds symposium on Civil War and loyalty

The annual Institute for Honor Symposium, this year titled “The Civil War and the Ethics of Loyalty,” will take place Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5. Registration is required and is available to access online at

The keynote address, which is on March 4 at 4 p.m. in the University Chapel, will be delivered by Elizabeth R. VarontheLangbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia and a member of the executive council of U.Va.’s John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History. Varon’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Southern Dissent and Amnesty: The Civil War Ethics of Loyalty.”

The symposium will also host three speakers who will examine the issue of allegiance and its many variegated layers. Speakers include Barton Myers, Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and History at W&L; Ricardo A. Herrera, professor of military history at the School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; and Hilary N. Green, associate professor of history in the Department of Gender and Race Studies and co-program director of the African American Studies program at the University of Alabama.

Each presenter will reexamine the most divisive period in our country’s history by offering new perspectives to our growing understanding of the diverse landscape of wartime loyalty.

The difficult personal and professional decisions that drove historical figures as they considered liberation, union, secession, freedom and independence can all be better understood by reframing the discussion around the questions of allegiance during a time of great national discord.

See the entire schedule of events online at

For more information or to register for the entire program, please contact or call 540-458-8916.

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VDOT seeks public input on two projects in Roanoke Valley

The Virginia Department of Transportation is soliciting public input on two projects in the Roanoke Valley.

Public comments will be accepted through online surveys from March 1 to 15 on studies for the section of Route 419 between Keagy Road and Bower Road in Roanoke County and City of Roanoke and for the section of Route 220/Route 220 Alternate that extends between Route 11 (Lee Highway) and Commons Parkway in Botetourt County. Online surveys and information about these studies can be found on the website or by using the following direct links:

Route 419 (Electric Road) in Roanoke and Roanoke CountyAnalyze the operational and safety issues between Keagy Road and Bower Road in Roanoke County and City of Roanoke

Route 220/Route 220 Alternate (Roanoke Road/Cloverdale Road) in Botetourt CountyAnalyze the operational and safety issues between Route 11 (Lee Highway) and Commons Parkway in Botetourt County

Community input received through these surveys will help further refine and finalize potential improvements, VDOT says.

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Forest Service to hold prescribed burn in Bath County

The U.S. Forest Service is scheduled to hold a prescribed burn today in Bath County.

Location: The 301-acre Wallace Tract prescribed burn area is located 2 miles south of Williamsville.

Date and Time: The prescribed burn will begin on March 2, 2022. Ignitions should be concluded in one day. Firefighters will monitor the area over the next several days.

Additional Information and Road/Trail Closures: Residents of Williamsville and travelers on Va. State Route 678, 614 and 627 may see or smell smoke. Depending on wind direction, this controlled burn may have lingering smoke effects.

For more information on the Forest Service prescribed burn program, contact the North River Ranger District Office at (540) 432-0187, visit, or follow on Twitter: and Facebook: