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The National Science Foundation spent $82,525 on a one-year grant to study on the self-defense of bioluminescent millipedes.

“Animals use myriad strategies to avoid predation — camouflage, spines, and toxins are among a few. Animals that are toxic, inedible, or otherwise noxious often advertise this by a warning signal, for example the yellow and black stripes of a yellowjacket or the rattle of a snake,” the award abstract said.

“Bioluminescent millipedes, known only from California, are defended with cyanide and their green-blue glow is hypothesized to be a nocturnal warning signal,” the award abstract added.

“In this project, the evolutionary relationships of millipedes will be analyzed, using molecular phylogenetic methods, to pinpoint the origin of bioluminescence, and the ecological circumstances under which bioluminescence evolved will be investigated,” it said.