Image: Bernard Dupont, Flickr

These terrifying arachnids, commonly known as camel spiders, use powerful scissoring jaws to slowly devastate their prey.

Although they are often referred to “camel spiders” or “sun spiders,” they aren’t spiders at all. These creatures are solifuges — arachnids that are much more closely related to scorpions. Like their namesake, the camel, they are desert-dwelling animals, preferring the arid habitats of warm biomes and often shaded semi-desert scrubs. 

At first glance, solifuges may appear to have ten legs, but two of them are actually sensory organs called pedipalps, which they use to feel out and hold prey in place. Their most nightmarish characteristics are the two pinching claw-like appendages that serve as their jaw, called chelicerae. These jaws are powerful enough to slice through tissues and cartilage of small animals. The chelicerae are not only capable of tearing but they subsequently move back and forth in a sawing motion in order to crush their prey to death.

Image: Marshal Hedin, Flickr

Camel spiders are carnivorous animals with a ravenous appetite for almost any species they encounter. Their diet consists primarily of termites, beetles, and other small insects, but also snakes, lizards, and rodents. And sometimes — like in the video below — they chow down on small birds.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

This arachnid has commonly been associated with horror stories throughout history. Soldiers during the Gulf War photographed these creatures at angles making them appear gigantic, and legend had it that the solifuges could jump huge distances and chase people down across the desert.

But, while these solifuges are truly capable of decimating insects and small prey, they are no major threat to larger species. 

Check out the video below  — but we have to warn you, it’s graphic: