Scolopendra suspinipes – faster than evolution?!

I found this large centipede lying on its back, in the entrance area of a building. It wasn’t moving, but I was well aware that centipedes are the last ones to mess with. Luckily I had a plastic container in my bag, so I started my rescue attempt by pushing the centipede into the box. It moved slowly. I guess the slippery floor, dehydration, and possibly some sorts of mozzie repellents gave him a hard time.

Centipede in need for help, but be careful if you do so!

So what is it? I’m not too sure. According to this page, it is Scolopendra suspinipes. This seems to be a bit of a messy species with different color forms. Most pictures show dark brown centipedes. There are other similar-looking Scolopendra species, so as always no guarantee on my ID!
Centipede means 100 feet, and we shouldn’t take that too seriously, these animals always have odd numbers of leg pairs. So it can never be 50 pairs. Our centipede has 19 pairs.

Mine was approx. 9cm, the pinky finger is 7cm long as a comparison. When in good shape, centipedes are lightning-fast, and they don’t hesitate to bite. Read some impressive bite reports here and here.
Confirm, the bite is really painful. But let’s keep in mind these animals are very useful predators as they feed on many insects we don’t like to have in our houses, and big ones even eat mice.
There are some new results about the toxins, and this is our story. Researchers found out that they got some parts of their toxins from bacteria and fungi. If I got that right they copied proteins that are already toxic instead of developing their own. And in science, this is not called copycat, but horizontal gene transfer. It is a shortcut in evolution, much faster than a vertical gene transfer, meaning improving the toxin from one generation to another. Centipedes are so to say even faster than evolution!

Never touch a centipede! For rescue, a large plastic box is recommended, use the lid to maneuver the scolopender into the box.