Class Chilopoda Centipedes

Centipedes are dorsoventrally flattened with 15 to 173 segments, each with one pair of legs (Fig. 4A). Poisonous forcipules (fangs) enable centipedes to kill and consume insects, other centipedes, annelids, mollusks, and sometimes small vertebrates; under most circumstances, the poison is not lethal to people. The body is partially hung beneath the legs to increase stability and to allow hind legs to step over front ones, which allows the insects to run swiftly in search of prey or to escape predators. Centipedes are found in most terrestrial environments including the desert fringe; the latter is surprising given their chitinous, noncalcified exoskeleton, which is relatively permeable to water.

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