Freak Week: Alarming Arachnids
Posted On: 10/27/2017 - 11:40am, Posted By: Other
This post guest-authored by Dee Broomhead, current Zoology Intern and student at Northern Kentucky University.
Halloween is drawing near, which makes this the perfect time of year to uncover some of the stranger specimens in the Museum’s Zoology Collection. Please welcome this year’s Freak Week host, Ichabod Bones! Take it away, Ichabod.
Greetings seekers of spookiness, welcome to Freak Week. First off, let’s meet some creatures that instill fright in many casual onlookers – arachnids! Arachnids all have exoskeletons and eight legs, and include such creepy crawlies as spiders, ticks, mites, scorpions, and harvestmen (you might call harvestmen “daddy longlegs”). Today we’re looking at one giant arachnid in particular!
Imagine trekking through the rainforest, taking in the lovely scenery; when suddenly you are face to fangs with this behemoth. You may think it to be a spider at first, but this spooky specimen is actually a Tailless Whip Scorpion (Heterophrynus elaphus)! Tailless Whip Scorpions’ armored body and long outstretched extremities are known to strike fear in any who cross their path. However, while these scorpions look like something out of a nightmare, they are quite harmless, producing no venom or toxins. In fact, they rarely bite, although if threatened, they can grab your finger with their spiky appendages, pricking you like a thorn. They are not closely related to true scorpions.
We have two of these mammoth arachnids here at the Geier Research Center, both are from Peru. The one on the right was collected on July 21, 1966. It was found in Cueva de la Lechuza (Cave of the Owls). However, you won’t need to travel to a distant country to spot a Tailless Whip Scorpion in the wild. These creepy critters can be found in some states in the Southern United States like Florida, Texas, and Arizona!
Keep your eyes peeled for the next installation of Freak Week!