Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Centipede is the popular name for one of the animals belonging to the Chilopoda, one of the orders of the Myriapoda. They are all land animals, generally of small size, with an elongated body, somewhat flattened from above downwards, composed of a series of similar segments, and with one pair of legs to each segment. They breathe by tracheal or tubes ramifying through the body. They have a powerful pair of poisoned claws. As Myriapods they belong to the great phylum Arthropoda (i.e. having jointed limbs), and among the members of this group agree most closely with the Insects. The Centipedes especially support this alliance by the remarkable genus Scolopendrella, which is by some authors placed among the Insects in the class Thysanura. It may be roughly described as an insect with many similar segments, having limbs on the abdomen. The British centipedes are harmless, and generally small, rarely more than two inches in length. Lithobius forcipatus is the commonest British species. The Centipedes differ from the Millepedes, which form the second important order of the Myriapods, in that the antennae have more than fourteen, and rarely more than forty, joints, and that they have one pair of limbs to each segment, instead of two as in the Millepedes. The Centipedes also have a large "basilar" segment behind the head composed of several fused segments. The earliest Centipedes have been found in the Carboniferous period.