A photograph of common British centipede, _Cryptops parisi_.

A common British centipede, Cryptops parisi.

Centipedes (cent = 100, pedes = feet) do not have 100 legs, they usually have 40 - 50. There is a distinct head, but the rest of the body shows a series of similar segments. Each of these segments generally has one pair of walking legs.

Centipedes are sometimes grouped together with Millipedes as Myriapods but they are more usually considered as a separate group called Chilopoda.

They are carnivorous (meaning they eat other animals), possessing a pair of poison fangs. The large tropical forms can reach 30cm in length and are some are quite dangerous. In general they show retiring habits, living in out of the way places such as under logs and stones.

General structure of a centipede

An illustration of the general structure of a centipede.

Note that there is one pair of legs per body segment as shown by the diagram above and the cross section and photograph below.

Cross section of a body segment of a centipede.

An illustration of a cross section of a centipede body segment.

Close up of centipede body segments.

Close up photograph of centipede body segments showing one pair of legs per segment.

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