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May-07-2007 14:56printcomments

Spider Tales: Flesh Eating Camel Spider - Fact or Myth?

As spider-mania sweeps the nation, we examine a spider that is creeping out Americans in a war zone.

Camel spider found in a sleeping bag in Iraq
Camel spider found in a sleeping bag in Iraq
Unknown photographer

(SALEM, Ore.) - Perhaps the first and most important thing to mention is that the Camel Spider is not a spider, as strange as that may sound. The camel spider is also falsely classified by some sources as venomous spiders, but these creatures do not produce venom, nor to they really need to.

A camel spider is an arachnid, and it is not the only arachnid that is not a spider. The camel spider belongs to the Solifugae family.

The camel spiders grow to about 12 cm, or 4 inches. The strength of its chelicerae's, or mouth parts, make it dangerous since the mechanical effect of a bite will cause a huge wound which will be subject to all kind of infections caused by bacteria.

Another notable aspect is that the camel spider is very fast and can run at the same speed as humans. Several soldiers have felt that they were attacked by the spider, but experts say that this has probably not been the spiders intention, since it only attacks prey smaller than itself.

Still, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will tell you it has happened.

The bizarre look in conjunction with their speed of movement has made them more feared than necessary historically, although some caution is required for soldiers in the desert as well as the local Iraqi population.

The camel spider produces a hissing sound when approached and has quite powerful claws, it's no wonder that people gets frightened when encountering a camel spider.

The picture of a camel spider found in a sleeping bag has been around on the internet for a long time. If you look closer there are actually 2 spiders and the photographer has made the photo in a way so the spiders looks larger than they really are.

A legend about the Camel Spider

In Arab countries it's a legend that camel spiders eats human flesh and actually are very fond of human flesh. This is only one of the myth entomologist meet when asked about the camel spider. In the section about spider bites we've added some photos of bites caused by the camel spider.

One final thought, it is unfortunate that the camel spiders can not only run at the speed of a human being, soldiers in Afghanistan say they are serious jumpers as well, and they apparently can land anywhere.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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