May 17, 2009

Of Pool Filters and Pedipalps

Here's a fauna-related plug for Australia: It's the only continent on the planet whose deserts are not inhabited by camel/sun spiders.

Yvonne, being a resident of the American Southwest, has encountered her fair share of them. By fair share, I mean anything over never.

She found this particular specimen on her property, and it measured in at about two inches in body length. She just recently exhumed a dead one from her pool filter, and it's abdomen was as big around as her thumb. That's a lot o' sun spider.

Sun spiders, of which there are many varieties comprising the order of Solifugae, are found in most deserts the world over and are not true spiders. They are known for their massive fangs (chelicerae), and for having over-developed pedipalps. In fact, the pedipalps are so large (as seen in display above), that they are often mistaken for another set of legs. But no, they aren't for ambulation. They function similar to antennae, and are tipped with adhesive organs that help them capture their prey. From the looks of the above photo, they are also used in "back off!" displays.

Fair enough, camel spider. You don't apply your adhesive pedipalps and fangs to my skin, and I won't apply the sole of my shoe to you.

Thanks, Yvonne.


jynxkat said...

these guys used to get into epic battles with harvestmen on the kitchen floor of the house in the mountains i used to mind when my teacher was away. good times

The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls said...

If I came across this at my home, my husband would come home to find me standing on a chair. Yuck!!