Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Spiders, Scorpions, and What Not, Part 6: Solifuges

Solifuges are arachnids of the order Solifugae, which includes more than 1,000 described species up to this date. Despite to being commonly referred to as camel spiders, wind scorpions, or sun spiders, they are neither true spiders nor true scorpions, though they are more closely related to the latter than to the former. Like spiders, solifuges have two separate body segments, the cephalothorax and the abdomen. Found on the head are chelicerae that are very large and highly discernible in most species of solifuges. In fact, the chelicerae are longer than the cephalothorax in many species. The chelicerae of solifuges are crab-like, and have a variable number of serrate teeth, the number largely depending on the species.


A number of urban legends exaggerate the size and speed of the solifuges, and their potential danger to humans, all of which are negligible. It is their fast movements and their unfamiliar spider-like appearance are what scare people the most. However, if someone was to aggravate, provoke, or frighten a solifuge into attacking, the bite would indeed be very painful, considering the size and strength of the chelicerae, as they can shear off hair or feathers off of prey or carrion and cut through the bones of small birds, but they never need any medical attention other than the ones for a flesh wound. 

There are a few things to remember about these frightening creatures. Solifuges cannot produce venom, thus rendering them a non-venomous type of species. Also, solifuges are not prone to attack humans. They aren't especially large, the largest having a leg span of 12 cm. However, they are the fastest of the arachnids, with an estimated top speed of 10 mph, so most people can outrun them if they have to. 

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