Camel spiders have a lot of different names and a lot of different forms. Their different forms have been noted, but not studied in depth, partially because their chief distinguishing characteristic was their mouth-parts, and no one wanted to look at those. Until now.
A coalition of scientists from museums, including the American Museum of Natural History, took a look at the two-segmented jaws of spiders from 188 camel spiders in an attempt to put the animals in some kind of order. After looking at the jaws of many collected specimens, they came up with about 80 terms that could be used as official terminology when looking at the animals and deciding how to classify them. Terms included the “mucron organ,” which is an organ on the mucron, and “flagellar shaft,” which helps male camel spiders put out a fluid that helps with reproduction.
To the lay person, it just looks like they’re displaying horrible, hairy crab claws or like some terrible cross between a spider and a scorpion, but we’re not alone in our ignorance. Most of these terms and sights are unfamiliar even to other scientists, because camel spiders are so rarely studied. Why? The answer will haunt your nightmares.
Sure, they don’t do well in captivity. Sure, they don’t live long. Sure, they’re nocturnal. Those all contribute to their relative academic obscurity. But the main reason is this—they’re too fast.
Yep, these spiders can go ten miles per hour. To put that in perspective, Usain Bold can go at about 27.44 miles per hour, and the average human sprints at a little less than 16 miles per hour.
[Source: Global Survey and Inventory of Solifugae]
Top Image: © Igor Siwanowicz, Jaw Image: © Tharina Bird