This creature combines traits from a centipede and a worm: it's covered in chitin, has many segmented legs with mandibles and book lungs, but otherwise, it's a regular armored worm. At maximum length, these will be about the length of a football and as wide as a soda bottle ( a small soda bottle, mind you, not the big 1-liter ones).

Furthermore, this creature has a stinger and an unusual head shape: sort of like a spade, but with a drill-like point (this is a false beak made of the creature's mandibles) to aid in burrowing. Its bites and stings typically causes pain and paralysis (it can inject other poisons or acid if it wishes) in small animals and, y'know, the arm of whoever thinks it's a good idea to capture it and put it on their arm to find out how painful its sting is. It eats garbage (see below) and

My question is, what adaptations would allow this creature to survive in medieval cities? Keep in mind:

  1. It's omnivorous and carries diseases because of its garbage diet, from which it derives its toxins.

  2. It can burrow into soil and even wood

  3. It's resilient and capable of regeneration like an axolotl

Good Luck!

  • $\begingroup$ Wood burrowing is a slow and taxing process. Do you want this creature to take weeks and even months to burrow a tunnel in a wood (as biologically plausible), or need some special adaptations to do it faster? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ Its head should be like a drill, so it would just drill through the wood. Plausible? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ First, drill bits are made of steel (as a minimum), in your creature I expect only chitin. Second, drills are using a lot of power - your creature would need to spend more time eating than drilling. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ Good point.....perhaps it can use acid to weaken and then consume wood to tunnel? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ Soo... a big centipede with the venom at the wrong end? $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 9:43

3 Answers 3


What works best in medieval cities?

Look at other creatures that thrive in urban environments and model your worms after those traits. Some that come to mind are rats, cockroaches, and flies.

A few adaptations / traits that would improve survivability:

  • Able to squeeze through thin spaces like the cracks under doors.
  • Can feed off things like refuse, sewage, grain stored in bins, sick and elderly animals or people, etc.
  • Colorations that blend into the natural mud, stone, dirt, and etc. of the city.
  • Rapid lifecycles -- many children in a short time means you can expand into a city quickly.
  • Fast moving to escape predators.
  • Slimy / hard to grasp or hold or catch.
  • Able to survive during resource scarcity (low food, low water doesn't lead to death but maybe dormancy, and/or can store massive reserves and just shrink as those reserves are consumed maybe?).
  • Toxic/foul-tasting. If rats and dogs and cats and people can't eat a thing, that thing is more likely to survive.
  • All the best vermin are nocturnal, which is helpful because people generally aren't.
  • Revered? (This isn't an adaptation, but if you can get the local religion to make the thing sacred, then you can't be killed and you can overtake the place more easily)
  • Pretty/beautiful creatures are more likely to be kept and "domesticated" as pets. This becomes less likely the more of the above traits it picks up.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great answer! It's already toxic and feeds off things like refuse, so it's a lot closer to my survival goal! I think I'll go with sliminess, flexibility (so it can squeeze through cracks), and perhaps make it nocturnal? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 19:21

You would need to make your worms( I call them wurms) have a lot of offspring, fast and furious, slimy, toxic, endure and survive resource scarcity by hibernating, colors that blend in with the city, heat vision, nocturnal, and revered. Make them revered so this way it can't be killed and overtake the place super easily.

  • $\begingroup$ Great ideas, but if they're revered and therefore not killed, they'll overpopulate and therefore cause problems. Also, why heat vision? There are plenty of ways for them to perceive their surroundings enough to survive without vision. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ Heat vision is vital because this way they can detect warm blooded predators in the middle of the night. $\endgroup$
    – Leviathan
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ Great idea, thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 6:03

Some adaptations/features it would benefit from could be:

  • An internal skeleton, at least over the clitellum
  • Tail digging, allowing it to escape underground while dragging food
  • A tough layer of secreted material over the clitellum, to protect it. However, this might interfere with reproduction
  • Gripping claws, to allow it to climb up buildings
  • Secretions that are useful to humans, which would make people want to have it around
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer! Most people don't answer to questions that already have an accepted answer, and I think it's sad because potentially helpful ideas and information may not be gained otherwise. Plus, one can always change the accepted answer...anyway, very good ideas you have here! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 23:18

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