Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Camel Spider

The order Solifugae contains some 1,000 species-- collectively known as camel spiders.  They are found on five continents, and the biggest can be five inches long.  In the 1990s, these real-life arachnids gave birth to a cryptozoological legend, when soldiers brought back exaggerated stories from the Gulf War.  They described the spiders they had seen in Iraq, greatly inflating their size and threat level.

During the Iraq War, the Camel Spider legend returned in full force.  This time, it was spread by hoax emails, accompanied by the misleading image above.  The essential Spider story goes like this.  A soldier in Iraq was bitten at night by a huge spider.  It injected him with anasthetizing venom, so he felt nothing while the spider gnawed a huge hole in his leg.  These spiders are said to be highly dangerous to American soldiers-- capable of running thirty miles per hour, and jumping three feet high.  Their name, it is claimed, comes from their habit of eating camels' stomachs-- and their size is compared to a frisbee.

In truth, camel spiders are tiny and harmless.  They contain no venom whatsoever, and catch prey (insects) with their claws.  Their name simply comes from their desert-dwelling lifestyle-- these spiders have no connection to camels.  They can run ten miles an hour, not thirty, and are completely incapable of jumping.  Camel spiders are bizarre-looking to be sure, but they aren't true monsters at all.

Read more about the Camel Spider:
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