Letter | Published:

Phosphorescent Centipedes

Nature volume 23, page 99 | Download Citation



ON September 28 last I was walking in my garden here at eight o'clock in the evening with a friend, when we were simultaneously attracted by a bright light about twenty paces in front of us. The light was so bright that in the distance it looked like moonlight through the trees; and had the moon been shining we should probably not again have thought about the light until we came upon it. But it was a dark night, though warm and even sultry, and still. The light was so bright that, taking a letter out of my pocket, I could read it. It resembled an electric light, and proceeded from the bodies of two centipedes and their two trails. The centipedes were about four inches apart. The light illumined the entire body of the animal, and seemed to increase its diameter three times. It flashed along both sides of the creature in sections; there being about six sections from head to tail, between which the light played. The light behaved precisely like the electric light, moving as it were perpetually in two streams, one on each side, and yet lighting up the whole body. In the trail there was no movement, but light only. The trail extended 1½ foot from each centipede over the grass and the gravel-walk, and it had the appearance of illuminated mucus.

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  1. Grange Court, Chigwell, November 22



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