|Image: Troy Bartlett, Nature Closeups|
That's right folks, when it comes to arachnids the imagination involved in their common names is approximately nil. It's no wonder that these other arachnids are so little known despite looking so distinctive and alarmingly creepy. It's all just "spider thing" and "scorpion thing".
Anyway, Tailless Whip Scorpions are indeed a whole 'nother group of arachnids. They are in the order Amblypygi, which means "blunt rump". Because they're tailless. They're also nightmares made into flesh and exoskeleton, but few seem to have noticed that.
The other end is of more concern, anyway. Their pedipalps have become huge, grasping, grappling, raptorial implements, lined with hungry spikes. They look a lot like arms with a shoulder, elbow and extra long barbs where the fingers should be. In fact, when they're bent at the elbows it actually looks like they're stuffing food into their mouth. Maybe they're just directly consuming pure, intangible Life? Probably.
|Image: David Cappaert|
Tailless Whip Scorpions are completely lacking in either venom or silk, so they shall just have to rely on those massive grapplers and spikes. A strategy of grab and stab, before mashing them up with their mouthparts. But how do they find their prey in the first place?
|Image: [wj] via Flickr|
Tailless Whip Scorpions often also walk sideways, using one whip to scout ahead while the other investigates the sides. This walking is of course done with the remaining 6 legs.
For most, this activity is done under cover of darkness. Tailless Whip Scorpions are remarkably flat, all the better to hide in damp crevices by day.
As is usual for arachnids, Tailless Whip Scorpions mate by the male dropping a spermatophore for the female to pick up. She then lays her eggs and carries them around under her abdomen for several months. Once they hatch, the youngsters clamber onto her back and she continues to carry them about.
|Image: M Hedin via Flickr|
Of course, they keep themselves further and further apart as they grow, and once sexually mature they really don't want anything to do with the family. Interestingly, even rival adult males seldom come to blows; they usually sort out their differences with a circling dance and vibrating their whips in each others increasingly infuriated face.
Eventually, someone backs down without getting slashed, impaled or anything. Clearly, just because you look like all the worst parts of a barbarous, alien, beast cross-bred with all the worst parts of another barbarous, alien, beast, it's no excuse for ungentlemanly behaviour.
It also seems we have a lot to learn about just how much use we could be getting out of our humble, household whips.