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Attack of the Camel Spiders!

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FW: Camel Spider Found in Iraq
Camel Spider

Netlore Archive: Viral photo taken by U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq shows a pair of gigantic, scary-looking arachnids known as camel spiders. Is it true the venom of a camel spider is deadly to human beings?

Image source: unknown, circulating via email and social media

Description: Viral image
Circulating since: April 2004
Status: Authentic image / Inaccurate text (see details below)


Example:
Email contributed by Kim N., April 7, 2004:

FW: Camel Spider found in Iraq -- This is a huge spider!!!!

Yuck. I sure am glad we don't have these here. Although we probably will after this war...

This picture is a perfect example of why you don't want to go to the desert. These are 2 of the biggest I've ever seen. With a vertical leap that would make a pro basketball player weep with envy (they have to be able to jump up on to a camels stomach after all), these bastards latch on and inject you with a local anesthesia so you can't feel it feeding on you. They eat flesh, not just suck out your juices like a normal spider.


Analysis: The photo appears to be authentic, though the same cannot be said of the accompanying text, which reiterates a tall tale circulating among U.S. military personnel ever since the Iraq war began.

FACT: A 'camel spider' isn't actually a spider

This scary-looking creature (actually, what you see in the photo is a pair of scary-looking creatures dangling end-to-end) is indeed commonly called a camel spider (also "wind scorpion"), but in fact it's neither a spider (entomologists know it as a solifugid or solpugid), nor is it exclusively found in the Middle East. Camel spiders are known to reside in arid regions all over the world, including the southwestern United States.

FACT: Camel spiders are neither venomous nor a danger to human beings

A typical specimen can grow to about the size of a child's hand, but, though they are known as predators and can kill insects and very small animals, camel spiders are neither venomous nor a serious threat to human beings.

For the record, they don't eat camels, either.

See also: U.K. Family Says Camel Spider Killed Their Dog


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Image Gallery: Crazy Critters!
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Sources and further reading:

Deadly Scorpions, Camel Spiders and Snakes...
U.S. Marine Corps News, 17 April 2003

Spider Myths: Horrors of the Desert (Camel Spider)
From the Spider Myths Site

Fact Sheet: Camel Spiders
Force Health Protection & Readiness Website, 29 December 2010

Egyptian Giant Solpugid (Camel Spider)
National Geographic

The Arachnid Order Solifugae
Scientific information on solifugids (or solpugids, e.g. camel spiders) from Solpugid.com

Camel Spider - The Official Arachnid of Gulf War II
From the Lycos Top 50, 7 April 2003


Last updated: 07/27/11

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