Subject: Tailless Whipscorpion
Location: Mexican border with Guatemala
February 8, 2015 11:08 am
I took this picture on 1/29/2015, identified by the guide as a whip scorpion. But I think it might actually be a tailless whipscorpion, as it has no tail. The picture was taken with a flash inside a Maya ruin at Yaxchilan. I think that the flash has caused shadows so that the legs look “double”. Yaxchilan is on the Mexican side of the Usumacinta River – the border to Guatemala.
From another of your articles, it appears that this creature is from the order Amblypygi , but I was wondering if the species can be identified. “BUG GUIDE” is only for US & Canada, and this creature is Mexican/ Central American.
Signature: Thanks, Bob Williamson
Dear This Bob,
We don’t generally attempt to identify Tailless Whipscorpions beyond the order, but perhaps one of our readers will write in with more information. We did locate a pdf entitled LOS AMBLIPÍGIDOS O TENDARAPOS DE MÉXICO (ARACHNIDA: AMBLYPYGI) by Luis F. de Armas that contains the following information: “The whip spiders or tailless whipscorpions of Mexico (Arachnida: Amblypygi) Abstract: The Mexican fauna of whip spiders or tailless whipscorpions contains 20 species belonging to the genera Acantho- phrynus Kraepelin, 1899 (one species), Paraphrynus Moreno, 1940 (11 species) and Phrynus Lamarck, 1801 (8 species) (Phrynidae: Phryninae). Only five (25%) of these species are not Mexican endemics, whereas six Paraphrynus species are troglobites. Paraphrynus and Phrynus have 82% and 50% of endemic species, respectively. The highest specific richness and endemism are concentrated in the southeastern states (Chiapas, Oaxaca and Quintana Roo).”
Thanks for the quick response. As I look closer at my photo, I can see some banding on the legs, which I previously missed. I know that the Amblypygi name ending in “Mexico” (which of course I cannot relocate on the web now that I want to again) did not look like this one, mainly because of the light brown and banded legs. Maybe the flash is hiding that a little.
This was the first time I have seen one and because of the size, it is certainly scary looking. I was surprised to find out it can neither bite nor sting humans.
Thanks for your help.
Later, This Bob.
Hi again This Bob,
Tailless Whipscorpions do not have venom and they do not have stingers, so they pose no threat to humans. We thought we once read that a large specimen might bite, but according to BugGuide: “No venom glands, and do not sting or bite. If disturbed, they scuttle sideways.”