Chiefly nocturnal predacious arthropod having a flattened body of 15 to 173 segments each with a pair of legs the foremost being modified into poison fangs.
Jointed-legged animal of the group Chilopoda, members of which have a distinct head and a single pair of long antennae. Their bodies are composed of segments (which may number nearly 200), each of similar form and bearing a single pair of legs. Most are small, but the tropical Scolopendra gigantea may reach 30 cm/1 ft in length. Millipedes, class Diplopoda, have fewer segments (up to 100), but have two pairs of legs on each.
Nocturnal, frequently blind, and all carnivorous, centipedes live in moist, dark places, and protect themselves by a poisonous secretion. They have a pair of poison claws, and strong jaws with poison fangs. The bite of some tropical species is dangerous to humans. Several species live in Britain, Lithobius forficatus being the most common.