This is what nightmares are made of. It’s called the tailless whip spider, and it has a pair of thorn-like pedipalps it uses as a puncturing device. And its suckers have a leg span that can reach nearly 28 inches.
They use their antenniform legs to detect prey. Once detected, the spider pounces and crushes it with its pedipalps.
They belong to the arachnid order Amblypygi. “Amblypygid” means “blunt rump,” which is a reference to their lack of tail, which is otherwise seen in whip scorpions.
Their reproduction involves the male depositing spermatophores on the ground. The female gathers them and lays fertilized eggs into a sac that she carries under her abdomen. Once the eggs hatch, the young crawl onto the mother’s back. There are around 155 species of these guys. Their size varies hugely. Some only grow as large as 2 inches, but others can become a crazy 27.6 inches large. Weirdly, they walk sideways, like crabs.
Now it gets really weird. Some species of tailless whip spiders are among the very few arachnids that actually exhibit social behavior. Cornell University conducted a study that showed that mothers could communicate to their offspring, telling them where to go. It isn’t yet known why these spiders are so unique in their ability to communicate like this.
They’re found in warm and humid environments in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. In their native environment, they like to hide in leaf litters, in caves or underneath bark. Also, they’re nocturnal. While mostly unseen in North America, there is one species in Florida. So if you want to avoid them, avoid a night walk in the Amazon or in the swamps of the sunshine state.
Luckily, they are harmless to humans. Still, they do look terrifying and their bites can result in thorn like puncture injuries.