First sighting: Centipede (Atari, ARC, 1980)
Known prey: Spiders; mice; birds; bats; garden gnomes; humans

Profile by Matt Williams? | February 17, 2011

Scientific name: Scolopendra gigantea
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Chilopoda
Order: Scolopendromorpha
Family: Scolopendridae
Genus: Scolopendra

The largest known centipede on the planet, Scolopendra gigantea is a rather nasty arthropod indeed. With the capability of growing to over a foot in length, the Amazonian giant centipede is carnivorous; it prefers to feast on the flesh of spiders, mice, bats, and even birds. The massive centipedeís method of attack involves an injection and copious amount of venom, and while it isnít deadly to humans, it can cause a bevy of annoying symptoms such as sweating, swelling, and fever.

Of course, this is what you would find in any biology textbook. Thanks to Atariís diligent and, at times, perilous research, though, we know the truth behind this insidious chilopod. Unbelievably, the centipede is even more terrifying than the initial description, and while its size and penchant for venom were not underestimated, those are the least of oneís worries.

The size of our foul little multi-legged friend may be intimidating, but that is nothing compared to its unique ability to split into multiple organisms. Whenever the primary centipede is severed, be it from an injury sustained from a predator or an apparent laser, the centipede bifurcates into two smaller arthropods, each one fully independent in both movement and thought. This can occur multiple times, theoretically creating a single-segmented centipede army.

Indeed, the giant centipedeís body is truly a natural marvel, capable of morphing into a variety of different shapes, and in some cases, other living things. There are reported instances of a segment of the centipede changing into a mushroom upon being significantly damaged. These reports have not been confirmed, however, and until further evidence has been discovered, consider this tidbit nothing more than an old wivesí tale. Finally, there are also theories indicating the centipede secretes a pheromone that attracts other wildlife to aid it in its hunt for prey. Again, these reports are unsubstantiated, though the appearance of scorpions, spiders, and other wildlife during a centipede attack is certainly not a coincidence.

If you encounter a giant centipede, do not panic! Instead, keep your distance as you pelt it with whatever you have on hand. The centipede will continue its relentless charge, and its movements will become more erratic as it continues to break apart, but do not be deterred. Keep a calm head and eventually you will prevail. Do not take pity upon the centipede; remember, nature is terrifying and wants you and your loved ones dead.

From the Atari Wilderness Survival Guide.

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