Nature on the Earth has mind boggling diversity. Evolution has enabled species to diversify themselves and morph into altogether different species which are better equipped to adapt themselves to changing scenarios of weather and other variables like food availability and predator defence. Living beings are morphed into some of the strange shapes and sizes. Centipedes are the prime example.
Everyone must have seen Centipedes. Those crawling fear inspiring creatures. Although there are so many species of them, but all are called centipedes. How the name came about?
Centipede means the one with 100 feet. But this is not true. The number of legs depend upon the segments present in the body of the centipede.
Centipedes have many species which have different sizes and number of legs. A full adult centipede can have 15 to 177 pairs of legs. This means the number of feet varies from 30 to 354. Typically a centipede has two legs per segment.
For example, Lithobiomorpha and Scutigeromorpha species have 15 pairs of legs. Scutigera have long, multi-articulate, hairy legs. It helps them to establish a solid grip on the ground and move very quickly but they are incapable of pushing themselves through soil or into detritus. The colorful Scolopendromorphs have from 21 to 23 pairs of legs.
The two legs in the first segment behind the head has been morphed into venomous fangs for hunting the prey. Legs of Centipedes become progressively larger as one moves from head to tail. This is evolutionary modified to provide better balance while moving.
The tail legs are modified into sensory antennae to help the centipede move back when it encounters a dead end.