The terrifying creature at the right is an Amblypygi. That’s even a creepy looking word. It’s all spikey and angular. This creature is also known as the Tailless Whip Scorpion, not a particularly better name, because whips are nasty and scorpions are nasty, though I suppose being tailless is an improvement.

This is a horror. A creature of nightmare and darkness. Those long, terrifying antennae things. The absurd number of spikes on it, the pincers that don’t look right. It looks like a half praying mantis, half spider, half terrifying vision of chaos and destruction.

This looks like Satan’s public lice, a creature at home scuttling up and down his obsidian shaft. It’s one of the few things I’ve seen that looks inherently scary, far more than a spider. It’s like someone wanted to take the basic idea of a spider and science fiction it into a monster.

It’s an arachnid, which makes it related to scorpions and spiders. Which is pretty obvious from having way too many legs and nasty pincer things. It’s almost hard to believe it’s a real animal.

The Amblypygi is of course a predator. Those aren’t the spiked claws and tearing mouthparts of a creature that eats moss and berries. They’re a fast, agile, and highly aggressive hunter, quick enough to even catch moths in flight. Some of them even fish for small shrimp. The large African species such as the Tanzanian Giant Tailless Whipscorpion can get up to 20cm (8 inches) across, including their long legs. Australian species thankfully aren’t that big.

They like it damp, dying easily in dry environments, so they tend to live in the tropical north. Along with almost every other bit of nightmare fuel in Australia.

There’s some good news, though. The Amblypygi cannot fly. That’s something. Not that any other arachnid can, but it’s still good to know. Another plus is that they have no venom. That’s right, not venomous.

Actually… I’m going to be honest, it’s hard to say much more about these things other than holy crap they look scary. But at some point it has to be admitted. These are utterly harmless in every way possible. They actually make good pets, and are a growing trade in the US along with related Vinigaroons. They have strong family bonds. A mother will raise her babies, carrying them with her until they molt for a second time. If they are distressed, the mother will stroke them to calm them. Siblings that are separated will cuddle close when they are put back together.

If you didn’t know I was talking about a terrifying predatory arachnid right now, I could be describing kittens. These are kittens. If there was any justice you’d see them on really crappy Valentines Day cards, with bows on them, or in a little basket. Actually, considering a kitten will happily bite and scratch like a demon, and an Amblypygi almost never will, a kitten is actually significantly more dangerous.

As a random point, the “spider” used as a demo for curses in the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie was actually an Amblypygi, probably because they look so damn nightmarish and are unfamiliar to most people.

Spikey. Terrifying. Less dangerous than a kitten.

Tailless Whip Scorpion
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