Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/155

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

to the last molt, but after that he is longer and slenderer and has longer and slenderer hands (nippers), but he is quicker and more vicious. O. austerus is handsomely marked; the back is dark brown, the sides purple sometimes greenish, and the hands often a rich mixture of red and brown. Scorpions have an organ, like two small delicate white wings, attached underneath the body between and in a line with the last pair of legs, which in the male is toothed along the back edge to the base, while in the female the last quarter is not toothed; its functions are unknown, but it is some delicate sense organ presumably.

The other kinds of scorpions found here do not call for special remark, though it may be noted that one of them (Parabuthus neglectus, Pure.) was not thought to occur so far east. There is, however, a very interesting pseudo-scorpion, a small tailless creature, otherwise much like a scorpion, found under stones and in sand, which has the curious habit of burying itself in the sand, and then, when it wishes to change its quarters and opportunity offers, it seizes a bee or fly by the leg and is thus strangely transported through the air by the flying insect.

Scorpions are of course viviparous and carry their young when small on their back.

The next group, the Solifugæ, is a very interesting one. The Dutch call them Jacht Spinnekoppen or Haar Scheerders, and, as usual, these are the names by which the Solifugæ are generally known in South Africa. Except that the Solifugæ are not spiders (though, outside of scientific circles, held to be so in South Africa), Jacht Spinnekop (hunting spider) is a very appropriate name, for, to the casual observer, they resemble spiders, and they are mighty hunters. Haar Scheerder (hair shearer) is even more appropriate. They are called Haar Scheerders because of their two enormous 'shears.' Many a person believes that, if they get into your hair, you will not get them out again until they have shorn it all off; others believe that they wait until you are asleep and then come and cut your hair off to build their nests with—imaginery operations, suggested no doubt by the name and the shape of the jaws.

I know of no creature which, for its size, is so terribly armed as the Jacht Spinnekop; practically the whole of its huge head is transformed into two pairs of terrible nippers of quite extraordinary size and power. These nippers run straight forward, the eyes being placed just where they emerge above. Each pair of nippers has its own independent nipping action, and, in addition, each has an independent up-and-down and backward-and-forward motion, giving the jaws an awful tearing power, so that, as soon as the prey is seized, it is ripped into pieces.