« "Okay Carboniferous, so it's probably an Arthropleurid. That's a centipede on steroids, basically" »
Connor Temple's description of Arthropleura[src]

Arthropleura was a giant relative of centipedes and millipedes that lived in Great Britain and North America during the Carboniferous period. It is the largest known land invertebrate of all time, and grew so large because of the high concentration of oxygen in Carboniferous Earth's atmosphere.


The body of the Arthopleura was composed of thirty armoured plates, which each had a pair of legs under them, and its body was about six metres long. According to Connor Temple, Arthropleura's diet would have consisted of dead wood and leaves. Arthropleura was practically blind, but had a good sense of smell and touch through which to detect other animals. Connor also stated that Arthropleura was a timid creature, but the Arthropleura encountered in the London Underground was highly aggressive and could be easily provoked into attacking. Claudia Brown jokingly speculated that the Underground Arthropleura's aggression was due to a personality disorder. (Episode 1.2)


Claudia Brown: "Not poisonous, you said!"
Connor Temple: "Look, I was only speculating!"
―The Home Office team upon learning Arthropleura is venomous[src]
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The Arthropleura's venin injection tube. (Episode 1.2)

Arthropleura possessed a deadly venom, injected into a victim through a long, thin, metallic-looking tube located behind its mandibles, in a similar manner to an insect bite. When a large mammal such as a human was poisoned by an Arthropleura, the venom would slowly attack their central nervous system, putting the bitten victim into a state of uncontrollable shaking and convulsion very shortly after being bitten, and rendering them barely able to move, before they lost consciousness after a while.

An antivenin could be derived from pure samples of Arthropleura venom, but without this antidote, poisoned humans would have a zero chance of survival, dying a matter of hours after being bitten. If one did survive and recover from an Arthropleura's venomous bite, then they would still be left with short-term memory loss. (Episode 1.2)

Incursions and encounters

Episode 1.2

An Arthropleura came through an Anomaly into the London Underground in the present beneath Arsenal Station, and bit and poisoned a pest controller.

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The Arthropleura biting and attempting to poison Nick Cutter. (Episode 1.2)

The Arthropleura attacked Nick Cutter, Stephen Hart and Abby Maitland at the Anomaly site the next day, but the three all escaped. Later, when Stephen returned to the Anomaly site to find Cutter, the Arthropleura attacked him again. At first, Stephen managed to fend it off with fire, but the Arthropleura was ultimately able to bite and poison him. Afterwards, the Arthropleura burrowed through the walls into an electrics bunker.

Cutter, Connor and Tom Ryan followed the Arthropleura's burrow to the electrical room. When Connor accidentally alerted the Arthropleura by knocking over a stool, the creature attacked them and bit Cutter on the wrist (but failed to poison him due to a protective armband). Connor tried to fend the Arthropleura off with a metal stool, which got jammed between the creature's pincers. While trying to shake the stool loose, the Arthropleura accidentally smashed it into an electrical box, electrocuting it. Burnt and weakened, the Arthropleura then fell from the floor it was on, to its death.

Episode2.6 52

An Arthropleura in the Creature Prison. (Episode 2.7)

Episode 2.6/2.7

An Arthropleura was captured by Oliver Leek's organisation and put in Leek's Creature Prison as part of his creature army. When the Creature Prison's security system failed, the Arthropleura and the other creatures were freed and ran amok in the bunker. The Arthropleura presumably died after Nick, Stephen and Helen Cutter lured the creatures back to the cage room with the food siren and locked the creatures inside so that they would kill each other.

Real life

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The Arthropleura showing its flexible segmented plates. (Episode 1.2)

Arthropleura (name meaning "Jointed Ribs") was an arthropod genus and ancestor of modern day centipedes and millipedes, and one of the largest known land invertebrates of all time. It lived from 323 to 299 million years ago, during the upper Carboniferous period, in what is now Scotland and northeast North America. Arthropleura is thought to have been a herbivore, and it could move and swerve very quickly among its habitat's forest floor and around obstacles.

Due to the Carboniferous atmosphere's higher oxygen concentration and Arthropleura's lack of predators, it was able to grow larger than modern arthropods, being between 0.3 and 2.6 metres (1 and 8.5 feet) long. Arthropleura died out at the end of the Carboniferous period due to destruction of the Carboniferous rainforests to desertification and arid climate.


  • The Silurian Millipedes in Episode 2.5 were the same CGI model as the Arthropleura. Some fans also believe that these Millipedes were Eoarthropleura, the Silurian ancestors of Arthropleura.
  • Arthropleura was the first venomous creature in Primeval.
  • As Arthropleura ate dead plant matter in the Primeverse according to Connor, the creature's venom is believed to be a defence against predators and not a means of subduing prey.
  • A few fans have speculated that the Arthropleurid species seen in Primeval may not have been Arthropleura at all; due to the fact that Connor referred to the creature just as an Arthropleurid, and due to the differences between the Primeval Arthropleura and the real-life version.
    • The reason for the differences from the creatures seen in the fossil record, in addition to the Arthropleura in Walking with Monsters and Prehistoric Park, was for dramatic effect; the Primeval Arthropleura was heavily re-imagined by the producers, and was six meters long (approximately twice as long as the real animal was).


  • Some fans have commented how the Arthropleura would not have been able to survive in the Creature Prison in modern day as there would not be enough oxygen in the air to support its massive size.
  • Arthropleura was not believed to be venomous by any means, since it presumably had no enemies and ate dead plant matter.

See also

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