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Giant, Amphibious Centipede Identified As An S.contaracta

First Posted: Jun 28, 2016 06:09 AM EDT

If you think you're safe from centipedes in the water, think again. Apparently, there are worse versions of the species under the sea - gigantic versions of the many-legged creature.

As if centipedes are not frightening enough, National Geographic noted that the first known amphibious centipede belongs to a group called Scolopendra , and they grow up to 20 centimeters or 7.9 inches long. Like all other centipedes, these larger versions are venomous and carnivorous. Lucky for Americans, they only live in Southeast Asia.

This is not the first time this species was discovered, though. Even though the description was published only last month in ZooKeys, George Beccaloni of the Natural History Museum in London actually saw this on his honeymoon in Thailand way back in 2001. The entomologist said that he was actively looking for bugs during this time. "Wherever I go in the world, I always turn over rocks beside streams, and that's where I found this centipede, which was quite a surprise."

Describing the giant centipede, he said, "It was pretty horrific-looking: very big with long legs and a horrible dark, greenish-black color."

When he found the rock where the animal was hiding under, the centipede was said to immediately escape into the stream, not into the forest he initially thought it will. Upon capture, Beccaloni put the centipede in a large container of water where it was said to have "swam powerfully like an eel." When he took the centipede out of the container, the water rolled off its body, leaving it dry.

It took a while for the species to make it in the books, but Beccaloni and his colleague were able to collect two specimen near a waterfall in Laos, and DNA analysis confirmed that it was, in fact, a new species.

He shared his observations with Edgecombe and together, they confirmed that the centipede was an example of S. contaracta - a venoumous species that probably can't kill you, but will cause agonizing pain nonetheless.

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