Large, hairy, and growing to 6-inches long, they are also called “wind scorpions” for their amazing speed. The many legends surrounding the Camel Spider will give you nightmares. It has been told that they eat camel stomachs – from the inside out – and are said to scream as they speed across the desert floor, leap incredible distances to chase fleeing humans, and kill people by injecting them with venom then feeding on their bodies as they sleep. Of course, none of this is true but with jaws about a third of their body length, they can shred prey as big as rodents. I would say that’s enough to give pause when you run across one.
Camel spiders are arachnids but belong to a different order than most other spiders. Despite consisting of around 1,000 species around the world, they are rarely spotted in the wild – likely because of their speed. Scientist Lauren Esposito explained:
“If you sit under a light trap a lot of times they’re attracted to the movement of the moths that are attracted to the light. And they’ll just come out of nowhere and grab something and run off again. They’re super-fast.”
The Camel Spider’s fangs consist of a pair of scissor-like, serrated blades that are powered by massive muscles capable of snapping rats, lizards, and birds to pieces with little effort. According to Esposito, their jaws are “almost like the mouth in Predator, where it opens up in four directions.” Once the prey is chomped to bits, they use stomach digestive fluids to liquefy their victim then suck them into their stomachs.
The Camel Spider doesn’t have any venom – doesn’t need it – their bites are extremely painful from tissue trauma alone. And they use no silk to trap prey either. Just speed and those huge, awesome fangs.
However, at least one legend is partially true – they do chase humans – sort of. Scientists say camel spiders don’t chase people to hurt them, they just want to be in your shade. When a person runs, the camel spider will chase their shadow and when the person stops, the camel spider will stop next to them, grinning, whistling, and coyly avoiding eye-contact while enjoying the cool, shaded air.
Here’s the taxonomy of camel spiders:
Families: Ammotrechidae, Ceromidae, Daesiidae, Eremobatidae, Galeodidae, Gylippidae, Hexisopodidae, Karschiidae, Melanoblossiidae, Mummuciidae, Rhagodidae, Solpugidae