Camel Spiders Under the Microscope

Camel Spiders Under the Microscope

They are a common breed in the desert, able to live on very little food and brave the blazing sands and sweltering sun.  But until now, the camel spider has been rarely studied.  They get their name from the penchant to move toward camels, using their large bodies as a welcome source of shade.

Scientists have finally gotten down to business in studying a vast collection of camel spiders from a number of museums.  A team of researchers used 188 specimens to classify their spider parts.

Somewhat large and wearing a reddish-tan coat, the camel spider has a unique set of jaws that look like tiny crab pincers.  The jaw itself has two upper claws – a pair, side-by-side – and one lower one.  This makes their mouths appear fearsome, and in fact they are experts at clamping down with this weapon.

But what makes camel spiders so neglected all this time – despite a few specimens captured from around the world – is how hard they are to catch.  Their anonymity has been assured by a combination of traits:  they live short lives, don’t do well in captivity, and they only come out at night.  And one more thing – they are among the fastest spiders out there.

 

Runnng at a clip of 10-miles per hour (humans average 16 mph), they also have the unnerving tendency to run directly at people.  This behavior is probably tied to their tendency to seek out any and all shade as an escape from the sun.

 

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