Denizens Of The Desert:
Callisaurus, The Gridiron-tailed Lizard
Sauromalus, The Chuckwalla
Testudo, The Desert Tortoise
Desert Horned Lizard
Spilogale, The Spotted Skunk
Read More Articles About: Denizens Of The Desert
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
"MATA VENADO ! mata venado !" screamed a Mexican laborer as he hastily jumped up from his seat by the camp-fire. Judging from his excitment I might have expected to see some reptile as big as a rattlesnake crawling out from the place where he sat. " Mata venado ! mata venado ! he hysterically cried again as he pointed down with quivering finger to a queer, tan-colored spiderlike creature that ran swiftly off his sleeve and almost into the fire.
"It is only a harmless vinegaroon," I said. "He cannot hurt you."
But the poor man was so frightened he could not be quieted, and all my explanations did not avail to get him to sit down with us again.
"Did he bite you, seņor?" I asked.
"No! No! But he might, and if he did I would die. That is what happens to all who are bitten.
Why, if a mule even drinks water from a trough in which a vinegaroon has died, he will die too."
While not all Mexicans hold the vinegaroon in such dread as did this man, yet there are great numbers of them who feel just as he felt about them. It is an old superstition that can-not be uprooted.
I must admit that there is something uncanny and strange-looking about these queer animals with their four enormous, sharp-pointed, protruding jaws, and it is not strange that the ignorant are afraid of them. They run around so bewilderingly fast and in such helter-skelter fashion that you can never be just sure when they are going to crawl all over you. Small wonder that they are called "wind-scorpions" sometimes
During the day the solpugids, as these creatures are technically known, hide in crevices in wood and under stones, and too often we find them seeking refuge in the folds of the camp blankets or in the pack boxes. At night they come out, run about, and, while very actively darting here and there, pounce upon insects and suck them for their blood. The population of an ant community is often 'called upon to offer up a great number of individuals to satisfy the appetite of these greedy pugnacious monsters. Vinegaroons, that can get into wire fly traps and are willing to remain in the "prison perilous," kill a great number of flies and on such a diet grow very fat and monstrously large.
The solpugids do not depend upon the aid of any poison in bringing their captured prey into submission as do the spiders. According to Comstock, no poison glands are found and the bite, outside of its mechanical effect, is harmless.
These creatures seem to occupy an inter-mediate position between scorpions and spiders, but show in their anatomical structure a radical departure from the structure of either of these. The head and thorax are fused in one, and the first pair of legs is joined to the head a most unusual position. The pedipalps (the second pair of appendages lying on either side of the mouth and which in scorpions serve as pincers) are as long as the true legs and like them are used as organs of locomotion. Through this adaptation a solpugid has use of five pairs of walking appendages instead of four as does a spider. A spider breathes by means of book lungs, but a solpugid takes in its air 'through tracheal tubes after the manner of insects.