Black Portuguese millipedes are suspects in a rear-end collision between two trains in Western Australia on Tuesday after hundreds of the tiny creatures were found squashed in a slippery mess on the track.
Six passengers were treated for stiff necks after a train pulling into a station at Clarkson, 25 miles north of Perth, ran into a stationary one, the train company said.
The millipedes are one of the factors being examined in the case. This has happened before as trains travelling at speed crushed the animals, reducing traction and the train has slipped. Nasty stuff. “Hundreds” doesn’t seem like much though. They are not particularly huge critters. This species, Ommatoiulus moreletii, is an invasive pest in Australia.
LiveScience notes that other sudden gatherings can be a travel hazard.
Earthworms, toads and even turtles have been cited as causing dangerously slippery road conditions. In some areas like Florida, the problem has grown so severe that tunnels and culverts have been constructed to reduce the roadkill problem and make driving safer.