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Friday, December 3, 2021

Decemystery (2021) 3: Giant Centipedes


Eugh, centipedes. I hate these things. Long, quick, and generally looking like the creepy crawly equivalent of Satan’s fingernail, these freaks of nature have an important role to play in the world. In spite of that, I still wish I could snap my fingers and make them disappear, along with every other abomination that crawls on my floors.

I digress though, my opinion on these things doesn’t stop some folks from owning them as pets. Why that is, I don’t know, but who am I to judge? I once wanted a snake as a pet, and my father can’t stand them and has repeatedly threatened to shoot them with his gun. Then again, I’ve threatened to use a knife to slice house centipedes in half, so who am I to judge… again.

Ahem, anyways, the point of this is I don’t like centipedes. At the same time though, I love the stories of giant centipedes. This is mostly because I love to scare the ever loving piss out of my friends, so when I send them this write-up, I hope you all don’t hold a grudge against me. If you do, please notify me on Discord.

As for the rest of you, please scold me in the comments section; now, let’s get on with the show!

The Story

Let’s take a trip over to Michael Newton’s Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology. It’s there that I learned of giant centipedes many years ago. Incidentally, it’s also where I wanted to bleach my brain so I could forget that they were ever posited as existing. The entry in the book isn’t exactly long (no pun intended), but it does state that within the Ozark region of the United States, there are reports of 8 inch (20 centimeters) long centipedes. This… isn’t actually that large; giant tropical centipedes can grow to be roughly a foot (0.3 meters) in length. So why this is mentioned in the book, I don’t know.

For the record, the largest ever found was a 13 inch (33 centimeter) centipede found in Hawaii. It holds the Guinness World Record for the largest centipede ever found. However, there is also a man who claims to have a 17-inch-long centipede as a pet. You can read it here, but be warned, the image that comes packaged with the article is enough to make me want to commit eyebleaching. I have no idea why Guinness hasn’t put that pet into their record book as a side note

Anyways, Newton’s encyclopedia does include one story that is referenced in the aforementioned second source. As such, I won’t go over it just yet, but it does bear mentioning. So with that said, let’s move onto said second source: Mysterious Universe! The place we visited two days ago when we were talking about Tyrannosaurus Rexes living in Texas.

Everything’s bigger in Texas… except for their centipedes; they don’t have any giant centipede reports.

Well, the article in question starts off with the story of the Con Rit. I’ve already covered that story, so if you want to read more about it, click here. For a quick rundown: the Con Rit is said to have been a giant sea creature found off the coast of Vietnam. It sported a great many fins and resembled a large, aquatic centipede. It hasn’t been seen in many years and to this day, nobody is sure what it was. My guess is it was probably… something. Still not sure roughly two years later.

Anywhoozle, let’s move onto the first real big story that Mysterious Universe provides us with. It’s within the depths of the Amazon that there are reports of 5 foot (1.5 meter) long centipedes that have venom so powerful, it can kill a fully grown man in… um, well, it can quickly do it. It can also melt and dissolve flesh like it’s Mr. Clean’s Magic Flesh Eraser!

These Xenomorph-like beasties are also said to be capable of spitting their venom “over great distances”. Now, I dunno about you, but the notion of a centipede that can melt my flesh makes me wanna centipee myself.

On a more serious and down-to-earth note, this would be something very unique to this species (if it exists) because centipedes cannot spit. They inject their venom through their front legs/fangs. As such, I actually wonder if this so-called “giant centipede” is in fact an undiscovered species of snake; cobras are capable of spitting venom.

Though my speculation means nothing in the grand scheme of things, the locals of the Amazon have claimed to have killed these centipedes. However, no corpses/remains have ever been presented to researchers and as of the time of this writing, the amazing centispitter remains nothing more than one of the many, many, many fantastical beasts that are said to lurk within the Amazon rainforest. If you want to learn more about this, I recommend looking into a man named Percy Fawcett. He claims to have seen 100+ foot (30 meter) long snakes, pterodactyls, hairy ape men, and I believe even bees the size of bats.

As Mysterious Universe’s article treks on, the writer mentioned Scolopendra Gigantea, the Giant Peruvian Yellow-Legged Centipede. It’s the largest known species of centipede and can grow to 10–12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters), but they also claim that the largest ever recorded was 18 inches (45 centimeters) in length. I had no idea of such a thing, but a quick search yields that they were referring to a totally separate story and not Scolopendra Gigantea—and it’s the story that Michael Newton featured in his encyclopedia.

You see, over in Arkansas, around 1850 (I believe), a man claimed to have found the aforementioned 18 inch specimen that was also an inch wide. It was subsequently lost during the Civil War and never recovered. Since then, there have been attempts to posthumously identify what species it was, but no definitive answer has ever been agreed upon.

I’d also like to state that the range at which this specimen was said to have been varies. Michael Newton’s source states it was “no less than 14 inches”, while the website I hyperlinked states it was between 7 and 18 inches. For the sake of argument, I’m going to say that this was actually 18-inches-long and if such: yes, it would be the longest specimen ever found in the modern day.

Moving on, the next story is one that I’m going to abridge heavily because it’s almost certainly a case of misidentification. A naturalist by the name of Jeremy Holden went to the jungles of Sumatra for BBC Wildlife Magazine. While there, he heard reports of a centipede around 12 inches named the “Upah”. They stated that this creature lurked in trees and could emit a “high-pitched shriek”, similar to that of a cat.

It’s immediately worth noting that centipedes—and millipedes for that matter—are not capable of emitting any kind of sound from their mouths because they lack the necessary components to do so. In spite of that, Holden reported that one day, while walking around the forest, he heard a screech similar to that of a cat’s. When he looked around, he couldn’t find anything. A guide stated that it was indeed the Upah, but none could find it.

Later on, Holden was with a friend of his and he heard the same noise. His friend quickly pointed out that it was a rare bird species known as the “Malaysian Honeyguide”. Because of this, it’s likely the so-called Upah is in fact a misidentification, though that doesn’t quite explain why the locals claim this creature’s bite is so excruciating, death is preferable to living. Still, one can chalk that up to folklore.

Though if you want my personal guess? Man vs. Wild musta really needed the ratings boost, so they wanted to—you know what, I’m not going to finish this, it really isn’t that funny.

So let’s move onward to the final story that I’m aware of, and boy oh boy is it a doozy. You see, just like any good article, Mysterious Universe saved what may very well be the most dumbfounding and scariest tale for, well, last.

Though first, I have to specify something. Once upon a time, around 300,000,000 years ago, there existed a millipede that was a little over 7 feet (2.1 meters) in length. These things were the largest land invertebrate in history and as such, they had next to no predators. At least, that’s what Wikipedia says; heck if I know if anyone hunted these gargantuan abominations.

Now then, let’s go to the Ozark Mountains. Home of a great many fantastical stories worthy of their own write-ups, this story will take us to Missouri. Our tale centers on an unnamed bow hunter who was hunting in Sebastian County, Arkansas. It’s while he was out hunting that he encountered something strange. Something really strange.

It was a deer, writhing on the ground. That, on its own, isn’t anything really to write home about, but it definitely was worth writing about when the hunter drew closer. He realized the deer’s head and legs weren’t moving. That’s when he realized the deer had a hoverboard and was doing mad tricks yo, this write-up suddenly went back to the 90s.

X-TREME DEER SKATEBOARDING! Now available on the PlayStation 1!

Except not really. The story goes that the hunter realized the deer was sorta sliding across the ground. Weirded out, the hunter moved around to get a better look. It’s at that point he realized the deer was being carried by a really big freakin’ snake. That, on its own, would be seriously noteworthy, but also not really strange. Reports of giant snakes go back centuries. I promise I’ll one day get around to that—hopefully before I’m 70 and blogger has shut down in exchange for TikTok’s version of blogger.

Back on topic: the hunter drew even closer because his balls are made of adamantium (or because he’s insane). After a bit, he realized that this wasn’t a snake.

It had legs.

Hundreds of them.

It was around 10 feet (3 meters) in length.

It was also armored from top to bottom.

This thing was carrying the entire deer carcass across the ground.

And I’m having nightmares because God hates me and wants my dreams to serve as punishment for my sins.

It was at this point the hunter jumped into the mosh pit and was eaten by the beast. Okay, not really. He decided to instead stalk it a bit, following the creature from a fair distance so he wouldn’t become the fiend’s next meal. After a bit of time, the centipede met its ultimate match: a rock pile. Try as it may, try as it might, the disgusting multi-legged hellspawn couldn’t get over it, let alone carry the entire deer over it. As such, the centipede let go of its meal and then did something else.

It reared up and stared the hunter down.

Naturally, the hunter was scared out of his mind. He stated to someone (Mysterious Universe doesn’t say who, which makes me think this story is something like fifth-hand in nature) that if he had a gun, he would’ve shot the thing. Alas, he only had a bow and arrow; not desiring to potentially enrage the giant myriapod, the hunter decided to let it centipbe, and slowly backed away before getting out of dodge.

This has been yet another story in what I call “Horizon: Forbidden Midwest”.

With that, our story—or rather stories—come to an end. Mysterious Universe is the only website where I could find most of these reports from. As such, all credit goes to them; wherever they found these from is something I’d love to know. Though I digress, let’s get onto the theories!


1. They’re real

It’s the same old song and dance when it comes to most cryptids: they either exist or they don’t. For our first theory, we have the idea that they do exist. This is a little bit tricky to elaborate upon since, as discussed above, there was a time when the giant millipede roamed the Earth. So who’s to say that maybe it didn’t evolve into the giant centipedes that are reported nowadays?

Ehh, maybe biologists, but I ain’t no biology expert and I can’t really argue if a millipede can evolve into a centipede over time. There was once a 3.2 foot (0.9 meters) long centipede that wandered the Earth ages ago, but that’s still a fair bit shorter than 5 feet, and considerably shorter than 10 feet.

So if we’re to assume that these things did evolve from their ancestors, they went through quite a bit of changing in their length—both body and leg wise. As such, I want this theory to serve more as food for thought than usual. Now then, let’s move on!

2. They’re thankfully not real

The second theory is they don’t exist. As Mysterious Universe pointed out, there’s a major problem with how Earth’s atmospheric pressure has changed, and how megafauna died off because of these changes. The giants of yesteryear aren’t around because the world changed a lot. Sure, some giant animals still exist, and there’s a fair number who think the giant ground sloth still exists. However, the gigantic pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and other mammoth-sized beasts are, well, gone. The same goes for the giant millipedes/centipedes of those times. Atmosphere, climate, and more changed.

It’s because of this that the concept of these critters surviving makes a great many people laugh the idea off, and probably why we haven’t heard from many eyewitnesses. They likely don’t exist. So you can rest easy at night—kind of. Hopefully you don’t live near a desert, the Ozarks, or near the Amazon rainforest.

My Take

I personally do believe it’s possible there are centipedes that are a bit longer than a foot, but I doubt they’re as dangerous as the legends claim them to be. I don’t think they’d exceed more than roughly 18-ish inches; the thought of a 5-foot-long myriapod that can spit venom is something more suited for a snake, and a 10-foot-long beast that can carry a deer sounds more like an urban legend than an actual creature (in spite of the fact that a 7-foot, 6-inch long demonspawn of a millipede that existed ages ago).

At least, I hope they don’t exist. If they do, I’m funding causes to wipe them out of existence.

I also think it’s possible for some exceptionally big centipedes to exist because gigantism does happen in nature from time-to-time. It isn’t like this is something unheard of. As such, if a centipede can grow up to, say, 17 inches, I imagine it’s possible for an undiscovered species that’s about 20-ish inches to exist.

On one final note, I’d like to latch back onto the idea of how much these creatures would’ve changed over the millions upon millions of years that have gone by since we had a 7+ foot long millipede waltzing around. While I’m atrocious at biology, I don’t quite know if the reported creatures we went over earlier would be the ancestors of the extinct critters. That, to me, seems kinda weird.

I’d also question why there are so many smaller centipedes when it's clearly better to have stuck with being, y’know, giant. It just seems kinda weird to me, but again: I suck at biology. So if a biologist wants to give me a lesson in, well, biology, I more than welcome it.

No, seriously, I would, I’m actually lost as to why these supposed centipedes would’ve evolved to be apex predators, yet the much smaller ones didn’t evolve to be gargantuan. It just seems weird.


See you tomorrow; I’m going to cry in a corner because I hate centipedes.

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