The species—also known as the giant yellow-leg centipede or Amazonian giant centipede—is the largest known centipede in the world. The carnivorous arthropod uses its powerful venom to feast on small rodents, as well as large insects and reptiles.
Amazonian giant centipedes are most notable for their long body which features numerous legs down either side. They form part of the myriapod family with millipedes. Myriapod means ‘many legs.‘ Despite the name centipede meaning one hundred feet the Amazonian giant centipede only has 46.
These are attached in pairs to a body segment with one on either side of the body. Centipedes can be differentiated from millipedes as centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment compared to two per segment for millipedes. The body segments are colored reddish-brown while the legs are yellowish-brown.
On either side of the head are two simple eyes but these give them poor vision. Most of their prey is found using the long, sensitive antennae which extend out from the head. At the front of the head are the forcipules which resemble a claw. These are used to inject venom in to prey which they seize. They can reach a body length of up to 30cm (11.75in) long.
Edgecombe told Newsweek that most specimens found in museum collections range from 5 to 9 inches long, however, individuals as big as 11 inches have been found.
The insect is big enough to prey upon small mammals.
The centipedes are “generalist feeders,” Edgecombe said, and take advantage of whatever appropriately sized species they come across. This can sometimes include other centipedes.