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The Fascinating Whip Spider (Tailless Whip Scorpion)

Not a True Spider or Scorpion
Publication of Discovery: Sept. 30, 2022
Issue: September, 2022

Have you ever seen the whip spider also known as tailless whip scorpion during any of your explorations at caves? It is an intriguing creature commonly referred to as cave spider which seeks refuge in caves and rocky areas, among other spots, in warm tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. However, it is not a true spider or scorpion, but an Amblypygid under Arachnida class. + This triggered our curiosity into finding out more about this animal. For example, why is it referred to as whip spider or tailless whip scorpion? As you keep reading, you will learn the answer to this and more interesting facts about this ecotreasure.

The Amblypygid’s body structure shares some similarities with spider and whip scorpion’s bodies. This fact and differences between these animals justify Amblypygid’s common names. An Amblypygid’s first pair of legs (appendages at its body’s front part) resemble whips since these legs are very thin, elongated, flexible and segmented. That is why an Amblypygid is also known as whip spider. Why is it also called tailless whip scorpion? Though some Amblypygid’s body parts look like those of a whip scorpion, the latter has a tail-like flagellum that the Amblypygid does not have. Also, remember the whip-like Amblypygid’s first pair of legs. You may see this article’s photo gallery to check out these features. +

Over 200 whip spider/tailless whip scorpion’s species have been classified by scientists. Some species are referred to as guabá by some Spanish-speaking people. Notwithstanding the species diversity of the whip spider a/k/a tailless whip scorpion, below we share general facts about this creature that may hold your attention. +

Interesting Typical Facts about Whip Spider a/k/a Tailless Whip Scorpion: +

1) It does not produce venom.

2) Its whip-like first pair of legs has many sensory organs; and thus, generally functions as insects’ antennae. So these are antenniform legs.

3) Its other pairs of legs have sensory hairs, but its first pair of legs provides the main sensory input.

4) It usually walks sideways slowly, holding out one whip-like leg forward to sense ahead prey and the other towards the side to sense nearby surroundings.

5) It can hide in small spaces thanks to its dorso-ventrally flattened body. Depending on the species’ habitat, it may be in cave formations’ fissures or rock crevices, behind tree bark, under rocks, or on dead leaves, among other places.

6) It does not have silk glands; and thus, does not produce silk web as strategy to get its prey. Rather, it uses spiny pedipalps (second pair of appendages on body’s front part) as arms to capture prey and defend itself.

7) It is active at night, its usual time to hunt and kill prey (e.g.: crustaceans, frogs, large insects, and small animals).

Next time you are exploring caves in warm tropical or subtropical regions, watch your surroundings carefully since you may spot a whip spider (tailless whip scorpion) as it usually finds shelter in caves. Whether you spot this creature while caving or in another area, you can take advantage of such meeting to look closely at its features and even take photographs. Do not underestimate the chance to appreciate the fascinating whip spider a/k/a tailless whip scorpion.

+ Sources:


2) Foleix, Ranier and Hebets, Eileen. Sensory Biology of Whip Spiders (Arachnida, Amblypygid). Digital Commons at University of Nebraska- Lincoln, 2001.




tour provider: Proyecto Cabachuelas
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where the crew ate: At Home
photograph by: Melba Ayala

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all details with the pertinent businesses before planning your trip. Please be cautious. The company behind this publication assumes no responsibility for your safety when participating in the activities mentioned in this article. You are responsible for confirming whether you are capable of participating in any of these activities or tours, regardless of the effort level or any other information provided in this website.


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