Did Millipedes Cause A Train Collision In Australia? Investigators Haven’t Ruled Out The Invasive Many-Legged Arthropod

By Philip Ross on September 3, 2013 5:41 PM EDT

millipede
Investigators believe millipedes may have caused a train collision in Western Australia on Tuesday. (Photo: Reuters)

Six people were treated for neck injuries after a train pulling into a station in Western Australia bumped into another one parked at the station. Was it an electrical glitch that caused the fender-bender? Or a faulty track signal? Or possibly human error?

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Nope. Investigators suspect millipedes are to blame for the train collision at a station near Western Australia's capital Perth.

MSN reports that hundreds of black Portuguese millipedes, an invasive bug native to Portugal, were found squashed on the train tracks after the rear-ender. It's likely that the little crushed bodies created enough lubricant on the tracks to cause the train to lose traction and collide with the train in front of it.

"What happened in previous instances is trains which were travelling at speed have gone over an infestation, crushed them and made the tracks slimy," David Hynes, a spokesman for Australia's Public Transport Authority, told Reuters. "The train loses traction and the train has slipped."

According to Reuters, in 2009, thousands of the pesky critters overran 1.2 miles of train track near Melbourne in southeast Australia, causing delays and cancellations.  

The creepy crawler is an invasive pest in Australia after the species was accidentally introduced into the country sometime in the mid-1900s. Every year, the herbivorous millipedes march through parts of South Australia, gobbling up the vegetation, including peoples' gardens.

They're attracted to moist areas, have a noxious smell and leave distinctive stains on surfaces. You can add "safety hazard" to that list as well.

Read more from iScience Times:

Man Hit By Train Going 110 MPH: How Did Darryle See Survive With Only 'Minor Injuries'?

Elephants Take Revenge: Angry Herd Storms Indian Villages, Smashes Homes After Train Kills One Of Their Own [VIDEO]

Paris Train Derailment Kills 7: What Caused Bretigny-sur-Orges Disaster? [VIDEO]

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