Centipedes, Millipedes

Characteristics :

  • Have long worm-like body with many segments
  • Have many pairs of jointed legs; centipedes have one pair per body segment and millipedes have two pairs per body segment
  • Body covered by a flexible outer skeleton called an exoskeleton
  • Centipedes have a pair of poison claws on first body segment, or head; millipedes do not have poison claws
  • Kingdom: Animalia
    • ​​Phylum: Mandibulata
      • Class: Chilopoda (Centipedes), Diplopoda (Millipedes)
Student Challenge:
  • Compare the shakes of centipedes and millipedes.
  • How do the slight differences in shape help each survive in its habitat?
  • What other groups of organisms have a similar shape?
  • What characteristics do these creatures share other than shape?
  • How are they different?
  • Why is a long, thin shape useful?
  • Think of other shapes found in nature.
  • Make a poster showing how shapes are adaptations for survival.
  • Tips for Observing Centipedes and Millipedes:
    • ​Never touch a centipede! Unlike millipedes, centipedes can deliver a painful bite. Observe from a safe distance.
    • Wear gloves and use caution when turning over rocks and logs. There may be more than centipedes and millipedes living in that spot and some creatures are just not happy about being disturbed.
    • Carry a journal and pencil for recording observations.
    • Leave all creatures where you found them. No one likes being displaced... not even centipedes and millipedes!