AKA: Wind Scorpion, Sun Spiders, Egyptian Giant Solpugids, The Kalahari Ferrari
What's neither a camel nor a spider, or even a species? It's the order of creatures that's been terrorizing the middle east for millennia. The Camel Spider!
Solifuges are actually an order of animals all their own that includes over 1100 described species in 153 genera in 12 families. That's a pretty wide net, but they do have some pretty gnarly characteristics in common.
First off, they have large powerful jaws called chelicerae and they love to use them. These are major chompers that are sometimes up to one-third of their body length. They use these to seize their prey and turn them into pulp. Their prey consists mostly of termites, beetles, and other small arthropods, but they have been known to eat snakes, birds, rodents and small lizards.They also rub those creepy jaws together to make sexy clicking noises called stridulation.
At first glance it looks like they have 5 legs on each side, which is pretty terrifying, but the front pair are actually pedipelps which act as modified sensory organs, somewhat like antennae in insects. They use them to hunt, eat, touch, dig and fight. All the important feelings.
Call them "Quick Draw" because these little buggers are one of the fastest invertebrates on land at 16km/h (10mph). If that doesn't sound fast at first, imagine this guy coming at you in the shower at the speed of an angry chicken and tell me you wouldn't make some embarrassing noises.
They like to dig too. The word "solifugae" is Latin for "those who flee from the sun." So imagine wandering the desert to see a ten legged spider-scorpion with giant jaws scurry away only to disappear under the sand and you can see why there are legends written about them.
Around 200AD Roman author Aelian wrote in his De Natura Animalium that these "four-jawed spiders" were responsible for the abandonment of an entire desert in Ethiopia. That's a lot of drama to put on one little critter. Some have even theorized that the "mice" that terrorized the Philistines in the Old testament were Solifugae. In WW1 and WW2 soldiers stationed in Egypt and Libya would stage fights with camel spiders against scorpions betting on the outcome. More recently there have been a variety of tall tales involving these creepy crawlies spread by soldiers stationed in Iraq. Rumours of foot long venomous screaming spiders attacking and mutilating camels spread on the internet when doctored photos spread on social media.
So are they worth all the hate? Should you fortify your home and arm yourself against these desert marauders? Go full Kurt Russell in The Thing and kill them with fire?
In short, Not really. They aren't particularly dangerous and they're not venomous, but they are tenacious and energetic little buggers that are known to chase creatures down for hours. Scientists are also investigating why they seem to enjoy taking out entire ant colonies for no apparent reason. So they are terrifying
And their bite is painful, as this brilliant illustration from wikihow demonstrates.
In fact, I'd highly recommend the entire article on How To Raise A Camel Spider, if only for the fact that this illustration follows the one above.
So are you going to bring one of these ancient desert demons home?
So what do you think? Is it DOPE? Or a NOPE?
Do you agree on the outcome of the Duck Death Match? Comment with your thoughts!!!
chelicerae- either of a pair of appendages in front of the mouth in arachnids and some other arthropods, usually modified as pincer-like claws.
pedipalps- either of the second pair of appendages of various arthropods (such as an arachnid or horseshoe crab) that lie on each side of the mouth and often perform a specialized function (such as grasping or feeling)
stridulation- to make a shrill creaking noise by rubbing together special bodily structures—used especially of male insects (such as crickets or grasshoppers)
arthropod-to make a shrill creaking noise by rubbing together special bodily structures—used especially of male insects (such as crickets or grasshoppers)
Camel Spider | National Geographic. (n.d.). Animals. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/facts/camel-spider
Bittel, J. (2017, August 9). Camel Spiders Are Fast, Furious and Horrifically Fascinating. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/camel-spiders-are-fast-furious-and-horrifically-fascinating-180964439/
wikiHow. (2021, April 29). How to Care for a Camel Spider. https://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-a-Camel-Spider
Solifugae. (2022, May 2). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solifugae