How many legs does a centipede have?

Une mille-pattes

The centipede or centipede, a beast with an elongated body and innumerable legs, sometimes causes disgust or fear. However, it also arouses curiosity in some people. Does the centipede really have centipedes?

Before answering this question, let’s first clarify one thing: centipede classification. Contrary to popular belief, it is neither an insect nor a worm. The reason is simple, insects usually have three pairs of legs, while a worm does not have any. Specifically, the millipede is an invertebrate which is part of a subphylum of arthropods, myriapods. As for the number of its legs, no myriapod species did not present individuals have about 1,000 legs. At least, that was the case before the discovery of a new species in 2020.

Centipedes have been around for 400 million years

Myriapods or centipedes are present on Earth for nearly 400 million years. Compared, the men began their conquest of the world ago 200,000 years. Scientists even believe that they are among the first land beasts to emerge. In those days, centipedes could measure up to two meters long.

Currently, the length of myriapods It is only measured in centimeters, even in millimeters. While the size of centipedes has decreased significantly, their ability to adapt has not.

Today, myriapods are present on all continents and are known for their elongated body with many legs. Specifically, centipedes have a jointed skeleton which is divided into various rings. On each of these segments one or two pairs of legs are attached.

Do centipedes deserve their name?

Since man has known and studied myriapods, he has not discovered any centipedes that really deserve this designation. At least, that’s how it was until two years ago.

A centipede, a kind of myriapod

The “real” centipede

In August 2020, a new species of millipede was accidentally discovered. in Australia, sixty meters underground. It was in a well in the Eastern Goldfields area, a city in Western Australia.

the December 16, 2021Paul Marek and his team published an article about a “real” centipede in the magazine scientific reports. It should be noted that Paul Marek hails from Virginia Tech University, USA. His colleagues are biologists from the University of Western Australia in Melbourne and Macquarie University.

During their study, these scientists identified this specimen as part of the Siphonotidae family. Furthermore, they decided baptize persephone eumilipes, especially in reference to the Queen of the Underworld: Persephone. She is a deity from Greek mythology and is the wife of Hades. Eumilipescomes from the Greek Dyed as well as latin one thousand Y peswhich mean true, thousand and foot respectively.

A size difference between male and female.

The authors of the study onpersephone eumilipes I feel that females are usually larger than males. On the one hand, adult males have an average width of 0.92 mm and an average length of 54.7 mm. On the other hand, females have an average width of 0.95 mm for an average length of 95.7 mm.

This difference in proportion is reflected in their number of legs. Therefore, males have fewer legs than females in the persephone eumilipes. Specifically, the male with most legs has 818while the female has 1,306.

Eumillipes persephone, the true centipede

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Beneficial characteristics for an underground life

Even according to the study by Paul Marek and his colleagues, thee. persephone has a conical head without eyes. Instead, it has large antennas that allow you to detect cracks and microcavities. This centipede gets in there thanks to its compressible segments, therefore they can be refined or compacted. In addition, its numerous legs give it considerable pushing power. All this allows you to navigate underground with great ease.

“The centipede digs by stretching its elastic body, making it thinner to accommodate the microcavities. »

paul frames

To date, thepersephone eumilipes it is the only centipede discovered that actually has more centipedes. A feature that would be limited even to females. As for other myriapods, the previous record is about 750 paws.

The “fake” centipedes?

The number of legs of myriapods varies greatly depending on their class. In the world there are several thousand species of myriapods that are grouped into four classes. Are here :


diplopods have two pairs of legs on each ringalso his name means “double foot”. In addition to its two pairs of feet, the diplopod is also capable of secreting toxins to protect yourself. This class of myriapods is the most numerous on earth with approximately 10,000 species discovered.

A centipede, a kind of diplopod

However, diplopods are generally harmless to humans as they feed on plants. They settle mainly on dead or decaying wood, soil, and other moist places. This type of millipede participates in particular in soil aeration and in the humus formation.

Right after thee. persephone, the most legged centipedes belong to this class. Is about ME’Illacme plenipes whose individuals have on average 600 legs. In Northern California, researchers have even been able to observe up to 752 legs in some of these centipedes.

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centipede or centipede affair about 3,500 species of centipedes. it is characterized by a single pair of legs per ring. However, the first part deals two poison fangs named “calipers”. It is precisely this specificity among other classes that defines centipedes.

A centipede, a kind of centipede

centipede hunt worms or other arthropods, so they are carnivores. Unlike diplopods, they they all live on the surfaceHowever, they need a sufficiently humid place to avoid dehydration. Also, the bite of large species causes a adult men pain and it is even dangerous for a child.

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The researchers identified around 400 species of pauropods. they are part of smallest myriapods with a length of less than two millimeters. The name pauropods comes from the ancient Greek “pauro” and “podes” meaning small and feet. For good reason, this kind of centipede has 11 pairs of legs maximum.

A centipede, a kind of pauropod.

the symphyla

Symphyla are the least numerous with only 150 species and everyone has twelve pairs of legs. Individuals of this class measure only a few millimeters and are blind and completely depigmented.

A centipede, a kind of symphyla


  • millipede they prefer humid places, therefore, they will not live in a dry house or room. As a result, they often invade bathrooms.
  • many myriapods molts continuously during his life to lengthen and acquire other segments.

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What are millipede legs for?

The first curiosity surely refers to the way in which this small animal coordinate all your legs. centipedeFor example, mobilize fewer and fewer legs as they speed up. As for diplopods, it is a nervous mechanism that causes a kind of chain movement throughout their body that resembles a wave.

Finally, the myriapods exploit the legs at their disposal to navigate Y sink into the ground.

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