Saturday, February 7, 2009
This is a whip spider aka tailless whip scorpion, the species is Damon variegatus. It's neither scorpion nor spider, though, whip spiders form their own order in the arachnid class, the Amblypygi.
They have powerful pinchers (pedipalps) and the first pair of legs is modified into very long feelers, the namegiving whips. D. variegatus has whips that are about 12" long, the body of the animal is about 2" long. Those are used to search for prey (the one in the pictures is feeding on a crickets). Whip spiders are extremely fast, but very shy and to me, they are among the most alien looking creatures on earth. They can pinch, but otherwise they are totally harmless to humans and other mammals, they have no venom and prefer to run away when disturbed.
See more (and probably cuter) critters over at the Camera Critters meme