5-speed listening (Centipedes - Level 5)

Centipedes eat animals 15 times their size






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We should be very careful of centipedes. The venom from these creatures packs a serious punch. It can cause paralysis and death in small animals. A centipede's sting is highly poisonous and can kill humans. Scientists have discovered a deadly toxin in the venom that can stop the hearts of animals that are 15 times bigger than a centipede. The toxin in the Chinese red-headed centipede, which can grow to be eight inches long, blocks potassium from moving in and out of cells. This prevents an animal's brain from sending signals to the heart to beat, which leads to a rapid death.

The venom rarely kills humans, but it can be unbelievably painful. It also causes swelling for up to two weeks. Researcher Shilong Yang, an expert in toxins at China's Kunming Institute of Zoology, said: "The centipede's venom has evolved to simultaneously disrupt cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular and nervous systems." This has not been found in other poisonous animals. Despite their name, centipedes do not have 100 legs. They have a number of legs, ranging from 30 to 354. Centipedes always have an odd number of pairs of legs. This means no centipede has exactly 100 legs.

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