When alive, they're too busy running away.
I must be one lucky duck because the above critter -- a Solpugid (sol-pew-jid) -- was sitting freshly dead and perfectly intact at the bottom of my apartment stairs last night. I was headed back from an evening workout and came upon it posed as-is with the chelicerae displayed in all their glory -- score!! Bet a neighbor found and doused it with hairspray (or some such) moments earlier, then booted it out the front door to die. This individual is the third in two weeks, and they're much bigger than last year's. I figured they're vying for a Monday Myth feature. So I scooped the dead-but-still-imposing body up for a postmortem photo shoot.
Sun spiders, wind scorpions, and a host of other common names are used to describe Solpugids. So I just call them Solpugids. They belong to the class Arachnida, as do scorpions and spiders; however, Solpugids are distinct from both in several ways:
- Solpugids have a segmented abdomen like a scorpion, but lack a tail of any kind.
- Solpugids have pedipalps (modified mouthparts) that are held pincer-like (similar to scorpions), but are not actually pincers.
- Solpugids have chelicerae that are forward-projecting and beak-like. This is a fairly unique feature.
There are more than a dozen families containing around 900 species worldwide. Most live in arid climates and are nocturnal predators of various invertebrates or small vertebrates (lizards, etc.). The largest I saw in my apartment last year -- among more than a dozen -- were barely an inch in body length. The three so far this year: 1.25 - 2.5 in.!