centipede

centipede
centipedal /sen tip"i dl, sen'teuh peed"l/, adj.
/sen"teuh peed'/, n.
any of numerous predaceous, chiefly nocturnal arthropods constituting the class Chilopoda, having an elongated, flattened body composed of from 15 to 173 segments, each with a pair of legs, the first pair being modified into poison fangs.
[1595-1605; < L centipeda. See CENTI-, -PEDE]

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Any of about 2,800 species (class Chilopoda) of long, flattened, many-segmented arthropods having one pair of legs on each segment except the hindmost.

Centipedes remain under stones, bark, and ground litter by day; at night they prey on other small invertebrates. They move rapidly on 14–177 pairs of legs and have one pair of long, many-jointed antennae and a pair of jawlike, venomous claws just behind the head. The 1-in. (2.5-cm) house centipede of Europe and North America is the only species common in dwellings. The largest centipedes, found in the tropics, may grow as long as 11 in. (28 cm) and can inflict severe bites.

Centipede (genus Scolopendra).

E.S. Ross

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 any of various long, flattened, many-segmented predaceous arthropods. Each segment except the hindmost bears one pair of legs.

      Centipedes generally remain under stones, bark, and ground litter by day. At night they hunt for and capture other small invertebrates. They move rapidly on from 14 to 177 pairs of legs and have one pair of long, many-jointed antennae and a pair of jawlike, venomous claws just behind the head.

      The 25-mm (1-inch)-long house centipede (order Scutigerida, or Scutigeromorpha) of Europe and North America is the only one common in dwellings. It has a short, striped body and 15 pairs of very long legs. Other centipedes have shorter, hooklike legs. In some species the last pair is pincerlike.

      Soil centipedes (order Geophilomorpha) are burrowers who dig by alternately expanding and contracting the body, in the manner of earthworms. The order Scolopendrida, or Scolopendromorpha, of the tropics contains the largest centipedes, with Scolopendra gigantea of the American tropics reaching a length of 280 mm (11 inch). These forms are capable of inflicting severe bites. Scolopendrids, as well as the geophilids, have relatively slow and sinuous movements.

      The little stone centipedes (order Lithobiomorpha) are short-bodied. They, like the house centipedes, run with the body held straight and are the fastest moving centipedes.

      There are nearly 3,000 known species. Centipedes are often grouped with the millipedes (class Diplopoda) and some other minor groups into the superclass Myriopoda.

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Universalium. 2010.

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