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Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre

Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre

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What are myriapods?

Myriapods include centipedes and millipedes as well as some lesser known species such as symphyla. Myriapods have bodies made up of multiple segments, most having pairs of legs. The group contains over 13 000 species, all of which are terrestrial. 

All myriapods belong to a larger groups of animals called arthropods. This means they have a segmented body covered in an exoskeleton and pairs of jointed limbs.

There are over a million known arthropod species. Arthropods include insects, arachnids, myriapods and crustaceans.

Case study: Centipede


Centipedes are one of the largest terrestrial carnivorous invertebrates with some species reaching 30cm in length. They are characterised by having one pair of legs per body segment. Centipedes also have a pair of venom claws for paralyzing prey.  


Centipedes are found in soil, leaf litter, under rocks and dead wood and inside old logs.


Invertebrates make up the majority of a centipede diet. Some larger species have been known to eat reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and birds. 

Role in the Ecosystem

Centipedes are an important part of the food chain and control other invertebrate populations. They are food for other animals such as birds, reptiles and small mammals. 

Centipede anatomy


The head is flat and is covered in a shield. Centipedes are often blind or have just simple eyes.

They have venom claws just inside their mouth on the underside of the head.

A single pair of antennae are important sense organs used to smell and feel the surrounding environment.


The trunk of a centipede has 15 to 200 segments.

The segments on the trunk have one pair of jointed legs. The amount of legs varies between each species from 10 to 300 pairs.

At the rear of the trunk are the posterior appendages. These act like rear view antennae sensing the environment around them.

Find out more

The invertebrate explorer digital book explores the incredible world of Australian invertebrates.

Students can use the book to investigate classification, features, adaptations and habitats of a variety of Australian invertebrates through narrated videos, stunning images, interactive activities and detailed text.

This book was designed by teachers to support the NSW Science and Technology K-6 syllabus and NSW English K-6 syllabus.

Content supports living world, Australian animals and class studies on invertebrates.

Download for free from Apple Books.

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