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Centipedes (class Chilopoda) are fast venomous predatory terrestrial arthropods that have long bodies and many jointed legs. Chiefly nocturnal, centipedes are found primarily in tropical climates.

Like the closely-related millipedes they are highly segmented (15 to 173 segments), with one pair of walking legs per segment. They differ mainly in that millipedes have their segments fused in pairs. Centipedes are 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 frontmost trunk segment of a centipede has a pair of poison claws on it that are used for defense and, more often, for paralyzing prey.

The familiar house centipede[?] (Scutigera coleoptrata) is a fast-moving carnivore that feeds on insects such as cockroaches and other small invertebrates.


  • Neil A. Campbell, Biology: Fourth Edition, (Benjamin/Cummings Publishing, New York) 1996 page 614 ISBN 0-8053-1957-3

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