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Birds, Wildlife and Gardening

Giant bird-eating centipedes exist – and they’re surprisingly important for Australia’s ecosystem

<p>Phillip Island centipedes devour up to 3,700 black-winged petrel chicks each year, trapping nutrients brought from the ocean by the seabirds and distributing them around the island</p><p></p><p>Giant bird-eating centipedes may sound like something out of a science-fiction film – but they’re not. On tiny Phillip Island, part of the South Pacific’s <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@-29.060687,167.9487469,12z">Norfolk Island group</a>, the Phillip Island centipede (<em>Cormocephalus coynei</em>) population can kill and eat up to 3,700 seabird chicks each year.</p><p>And this is entirely natural. This unique creature endemic to Phillip Island has a diet consisting of an unusually large proportion of <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zn22pv4/articles/zp6g7p3#:%7E:text=Vertebrates%20are%20animals%20that%20have,body%2C%20like%20spiders%20and%20crabs.">vertebrate animals</a>, including seabird chicks.</p><p> <span>Related: </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/06/australian-wildlife-20-times-more-likely-to-encounter-deadly-feral-cats-than-native-predators">Australian wildlife 20 times more likely to encounter deadly feral cats than native predators</a> </p><p> <span>Related: </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/26/coalition-fails-to-meet-endangered-species-targets-to-stem-decline-of-birds-mammals-and-plants">Coalition fails to meet endangered species targets to stem decline of birds, mammals and plants</a> </p><p>Luke Halpin is an ecologist at Monash University; Rohan Clarke is the director of the Monash Drone Discovery Platform and a senior lecturer in ecology at Monash University; Rowan Mott is a biologist at Monash University</p><p>This article was originally <a href="https://theconversation.com/giant-bird-eating-centipedes-exist-and-theyre-surprisingly-important-for-their-ecosystem-161744">published in the Conversation</a></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/aug/05/giant-bird-eating-centipedes-exist-and-theyre-surprisingly-important-for-australias-ecosystem">Continue reading...</a>

Phillip Island centipedes devour up to 3,700 black-winged petrel chicks each year, trapping nutrients brought from the ocean by the seabirds and distributing them around the island

Giant bird-eating centipedes may sound like something out of a science-fiction film – but they’re not. On tiny Phillip Island, part of the South Pacific’s Norfolk Island group, the Phillip Island centipede (Cormocephalus coynei) population can kill and eat up to 3,700 seabird chicks each year.

And this is entirely natural. This unique creature endemic to Phillip Island has a diet consisting of an unusually large proportion of vertebrate animals, including seabird chicks.

Related: Australian wildlife 20 times more likely to encounter deadly feral cats than native predators

Related: Coalition fails to meet endangered species targets to stem decline of birds, mammals and plants

Luke Halpin is an ecologist at Monash University; Rohan Clarke is the director of the Monash Drone Discovery Platform and a senior lecturer in ecology at Monash University; Rowan Mott is a biologist at Monash University

This article was originally published in the Conversation

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