Subject: Solifugid ID
Location: Dorob National Park, Namibia
October 7, 2015 1:43 pm
Habitat: Dry riverbed in rocky gorge, near Messum crater
Weather: Dry Arid
Observation: It was seen moving about the rocks and sand. Once it sensed danger it burrowed itself beneath the sand.
I believe I have narrowed down this solfugid to the Hexisopodidae family. I am leaning towards Hexisopus genus over Chelypus genus based on the absence of of well-developed spines on the pedipalps but am not confident I can I can tell based on my photos.
Any help on narrowing down identification or tidbits on natural history would be much appreciated. This was such a neat find!
Signature: Michael Kent
This is the strangest looking Solifugid we have ever had submitted to us. Its legs are so compact, it most likely does not run as quickly as other members of the order Solifugae. Your observations that it buried itself in the sand are quite interesting, and that might be an adaptation to not being able to run quickly. Alas, we haven’t the necessary skills to determine a more specific identity, and it sounds like your own research was quite thorough. We will be posting all of your wonderful images and perhaps an Arachnologist will see the posting and be able to contribute a future comment. Are there any Solifugologists out there??? As a side note, we appreciate your naming convention for the digital files. All we had to do was add you name to the file name you provided to maintain our own naming convention.
Update: November 22, 2019
See this great article that includes Michael Kent’s images and observations on Arthropod Ecology where it states: “More chelicera than cephalothorax, the Solifugae or ‘those who flee from the sun’ look like a reckless arachnid bulldozer that could star in Mad Max. Otherwise known (incorrectly!) as camel spiders, whip scorpions, and my personal favourite baarskeerders (Afrikaans for beard cutters), solifugids are often one of the dominant arthropod predators in arid ecosystems. They ruthlessly chase, hunt, stalk, and scavenge using their leg-lengthed pedipalps to snatch prey while using their jaw-like chelicera and digestive juices to masticate their invertebrate and small vertebrate victims to a pulp.”