Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Giant red-headed Centipede: a crawling dragon

When the words centipede and milipede strike one's ears, the mind's engine will display results of tiny, slow and harmless creatures with many legs. Well, this essay will provide a completely different side to these creatures generally refered to as Myriapoda s.

The Giant red-headed centipede is a subspecies of the Giant desert centipede and is truley giant, reaching lengths of 10 inches, or 25 centimeters. The Giant red headed centipedes are sometimes referred to as "the devil's head"; this is because of the color designition of the different body segments of the centipede. The top few segment are red and the rest are all black. The legs are yellow.

These creatures are mostly found in the USA and Mexico and being moisture dependent, choose moist habitats. Even in deserts they rely on moisture and are found in cracks in woods and beneath rocks near ponds. The females hatch eggs to reproduce and wind themselves around the eggs for prottection.

The dining menu of these predators consists of moths, toads, snakes and other vertebrates. They capture and kill their prey by stunning them and killing them using their poison domes situated in thebasal section of their fangs, also called maxillipeds. The video bellow is a short documentary which also portrays the hunting abilities of a giant red headed centipede.

In the mid 1920s, Dr. Baerg tested the effect of the venom by inducing a centipede to bite one of his little fingers, leaving the fangs inserted for about four seconds. The bite was followed by a sharp and strictly local pain, which began to subside noticeably after about 15 minutes. In about two hours the pain was only very slight, but there was a general swelling in the finger. Three hours after the bite, most symptoms had disappeared. What some do for science ! It has been stated by a famed arthopod scientist, J. L Cloudsely that "centipedes seem to exert a weird fascination on the morbid appetites of the hysterical and insane."

When the animal is irritated, a poison is created at the base of each of its legs and inserted into the source of irritation. The toxins in the venom cause wounds and swelling and if inserted in critical areas of the body, such as the chest, can eventually lead to death.

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