cave centipede (Thereuopoda longicornis), Gomantong caves, Borneo (Malaysia)

New armor for the night’s knights

Even the “strongest” predators, armed with powerful venom and fast moves can pass thought delicate times. That’s the case of the molting period, during which some of these animals must change their external skeleton (called exoskeleton) in order to grow.

This phenomenon (called ecdysis)  is typical of all Arthropods and other Invertebrates, which cannot grow up unless they regularly change their “body armor” to make a new, larger one.
The shedding time could last a few minutes for some animals to some hours for other ones. They even need a previous “resting” period, during which they have to wait for the molting fluids to pervade the space between the epidermal face and the old exoskeleton. that’s a truly dangerous time for them all, completely in the hands of what happens around them. Even a small fall or the slightest movement of the substrate on which they are could damage their forming soft new shell, a real sentence of death.
For the Bornean cave centipedes (Thereuopoda sp.) is then something not to be taken lightly and they normally tend to migrate into the darkest and quietest corners of the caves, where no larger predators could come to bother them.
But I was lucky enough to find this very large individual already molting just a few inches far from the main passage in Gomantong caves (Borneo, Malaysia), just in time for some shots. As usual, I made every effort not to stress or damage the animal, so I put the flashes not to close to avoid any contact and I only breathed through a breathing mask to avoid any air swirl going toward it.
All these shots were taken with Nikon D810, Micronikkor 60mm Af-S and Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, sb-r200 flashes.