Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Awesome giant centipede video

I saw this video over at pharyngula and concluded it was too awesome not to provide yet another link to. Essentially this is a video of a >1 foot long giant centipede (Scolopendra) attacking, killing and then devouring a mouse. There is only a few seconds of squeaking after the first strike and then the copious amounts of poison that the animal secretes through its maxillipeds (the part that bites the mouse). It's worth noting for those watching the video (probably with some horror) that the maxillipeds aren't what the centipede uses to eat the mouse. These structures are adapted to secrete venom and additionally kill by impalation (a favoured tactic of other large arthropods like tarantulas as well), but they do have mandibles and if you watch the head closely, you can observe the centipede chewing away on the mouse with its mandibles (under the head).

Centipedes are very underrated killers of the arthropod world. This is obviously the start of an effective (and equally horrible) PR campaign.

Update: I missed it the first time, but also note the spots of liquid that suddenly appear between the joints of the centipedes body as it wrestles with the mouse. I would guess that's actually even more venom, although I've normally only heard of centipedes releasing venom from between their leg joints and not their main segments. That's a pretty awesome adaptation if they can secrete venom that way as well though. It's not entirely without precedent though, the centipedes close relatives milipedes are known to secrete cyanide and other toxic compounds from their joints when harassed.