Monday, August 01, 2005

Animal of the Week August 1, 2005 -- Camel spiders of Iraq

Hello Animal Freaks!
This week's animal of the week is Galeodes arabs (sun spider, camel spider, wind spider, wind scorpion). The most common question people ask when I start talking about Animal of the Week is "will you shut up about this for just five seconds?" Another common question is "will you ever do a made-up animal?" And, like Julia Roberts' character in Pretty Woman with regards to kissing on the lips, I say "no, it's one of my rules". Camel spiders are therefore an interesting case; a few years ago troops in the middle east derived fun in the homely way of mocking up photos of giant spiders that ate human flesh. This urban (desert?) legend did the rounds on the world wide web and were emailed around, and everyone thought there was a foot-long, ten-legged spider biting chunks out of people and camels. Someone mentioned this to me the other day and they still thought it true! Durr, spiders don't have ten legs! Durr, spiders don't grow to a foot long! Durr, that's not even a spider, it's a solifugid? These arachnids aren't spiders. They don't even really have ten legs, the first pair of limbs are large, modified mouth parts (pedipalps). And they don't grow to a foot long. Galeodes arabs is one of the biggest with a 5 inch leg span and 2 inch body. Here is a real picture, without scale you can't tell it's not a foot long, but take my word for it, it's not, I wouldn't lie, not to you.


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