Centipedes (Class Chilopoda) are fast-moving venomous, predatory terrestrial arthropods that have long bodies and many jointed legs. more...
Chiefly nocturnal, centipedes are found primarily in tropical climates. Like the closely-related millipedes, they are highly segmented (15 to 173 segments), but with one pair of walking legs per segment. Centipedes are dorso-ventrally flattened, and are among the fastest and most agile of arthropod predators.
The head of a centipede has a pair of antennae and jaw-like mandibles, and other mouthparts that evolved from modified appendages. The most anterior trunk segment of a centipede has a pair of venomous claws (called maxillipeds) that are used for both defense and for capturing and paralyzing prey. The venom can be dangerous to humans in some species. Despite their name, which stems from the latin words 'centi' (meaning 'hundred') and 'ped' (meaning 'foot'); they normally have around half that, though it is possible to find centipedes with over 200 legs.
The house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) is a fast-moving carnivore that feeds on insects such as cockroaches and other small invertebrates.
Centipedes also live on cave floors underneath bats. When a baby bat falls from the cave ceiling, the centipedes swarm over and envenomate it before eating it.
In Japanese mythology, heroes battle with giant centipedes, which even at mundane sizes are often thought to be connected with the world of the dead.
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