("wind scorpions" or "sun spiders")
Solifugids are tropical and subtropical
arachnids. The chelicerae of these animals are huge (the large structures
beneath the eyes in the photo below) and by all accounts solifugids are
quick, active predators. Just posterior to the chelicerae are the pedipalps
which are used to help in the capture of prey. Although they are homologous
to the pedipalps with enlarged chela (pincers) of true scorpions,
the chela on solifugid pedipalps are much less conspicuous and pedipalps
look much like walking legs.
In solifugids, the first pair of what are the walking legs in most orders
are modified to act as sensory organs (as in amblypygids,
and palpigrades). These sensory
legs are generally held upwards and forward, antenna-like, as the wind
scorpion scurries about on six legs.
Some species from old world desert locales are rather large -- up to 7
cm long. Those found in the southern and western USA are considerably
smaller and are generally secretive.
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modified November 27, 2009